BY AARON PATTERSON
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
All Dorothy had to do was repeat that ever-famous line and click her ruby red slippers together to return from the Emerald City to the comforts of the place she knew best.
Danville native Chris Wilson didn’t have to click his heels together in hopes of making a return trip to Danville, although a pair of red basketball shoes might go well with the red and white uniforms donned by his current Owens Community College Express.
All he had to do was help his team win a few games and earn the opportunity to compete for this week’s NJCAA Division II National Championship.
That opportunity was awarded to Wilson and the Express after knocking off Lakeland Community College on March 9 in Cincinnati.
Though he has made occasional visits to his hometown, his arrival in Danville was, in some respects, long overdue.
In fact, despite still having family and friends in the area, Wilson hasn’t lived in Danville nearly 14 years.
“I went to Douglas Elementary, then me and my mom moved away,” Wilson said. “My mom worked at Commercial-News, of course, for years and years. It’s good to be back home, especially on a good note with the national tournament. I’m just ready to play.”
Though he is singularly focused on helping the Express win a championship, it’s hard to not imagine what life might have been like had he and his mother, Sheila, never moved away.
Playing pick-up games with friends like Ronnie Dixon and Dabo Worthington, Wilson looked forward to eventually going to Danville High School and suiting up for the Vikings. His older brothers, Aaron and Bryan, who is now a national gospel recording artist, graduated from Danville High just before the Wilsons relocated to Ohio.
“It was tough because I always looked up to my uncles, Tommy Davis and Junior Davis,” Wilson said. “They went to Danville High School, and it was a dream of mine to play for Danville High School. I never got the opportunity to, so that was always a big deal. It was tough to lose all of my friends and everything and move out and start all over.”
While Wilson missed the opportunity to play for the Vikings, the Vikings would have gladly welcomed him onto the squad.
As a junior at Start High School in Toledo, Wilson was named to the All-Toledo City League Second Team, and earned first team honors along with being named Second-Team All-District his senior year (2006-2007) after leading the league with 16.2 rebounds per game.
“It would have been a whole lot different to (stay in my hometown),” Wilson said, “to be able to grow up with my friends and doing what we loved. Growing up in the neighborhood, we played basketball. Every time we got together, we played 21.It would have been epic. Me and Ronnie Dixon still talk about it today. It would have been epic.”
Though he is happy to be back home, the 6-6 forward is currently battling his way back from surgery after tearing both his ACL an MCL.
At minimum, Wilson will be able to have a reunion of sorts with his friends and family, and for the first time be able to compete at a high level in front of his hometown crowd. And by the end of the week, he hopes to have them join him in celebrating a successful tournament run.
“You can’t explain it when you come home,” Wilson said. “There’s no place like home.
“I miss Danville, and I miss all of my friends and my family here. I’m just glad to be home.”