LOGAN, Utah – With three different stops in professional basketball, two years of playing overseas and one addition to the family, Gary Wilkinson’s life and playing career has been full of changes and excitement since graduating from Utah State. This past season saw more of the same championship level play from the 2009 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, as Wilkinson led his New Zealand Breakers team to a National Basketball League (NBL) championship, the first championship of any kind for a New Zealand team playing in Australian leagues. Averaging 15 points and six rebounds per game, Wilkinson earned first-team all-league honors during the season. Playing and traveling to locales such as South Korea, Greece and New Zealand after two years in Logan isn’t the only drastic change though for Wilkinson and his wife Jessica as the couple added another member to the Wilkinson family on May 26, 2011 with the birth of Jordan James Wilkinson. On top the of the responsibilities of parenting, offseason training and planning a July basketball camp, Wilkinson took a few minutes to share some details about his life and future plans. How have the past two seasons playing overseas treated you?”I first started in Korea. I went there for about half a year and switched contracts to go to Greece. Korea was a different experience trying to work out basketball through translators and it was good import competition. Then obviously Greece is a great place to play, had a lot of fun there, played with Spencer Nelson and enjoyed it.” Talk about winning a championship with the New Zealand Breakers.”It’s the first time that any New Zealand team in any sport has won an Australian competition, so it was a big deal. There was a lot of fanfare and people were pretty excited about it and it got pretty huge. It was fun to watch the sport grow over the season.” What was the difference in the excitement of the public of you and your team compared to USU?”The New Zealand media is really skeptical and pessimistic about sports because they always lose the Australian league championships, no matter what sport. The press was there and around and definitely we were in the news, but as the season progressed the sport grew and people got a lot more interested. I’d go out and people would start recognizing me around Auckland and on the North shore and as the season progressed it definitely became more of a focus and a sport that people really got interested in. I think it’s starting to gain momentum in terms of people’s interest and desire to play, so it was really good. When the season ended we were front page news.” How has the adjustment to becoming a parent gone for you?”It’s different. I was telling Coach (Stew) Morrill I’m glad that I didn’t have a baby when I was at school here because trying to make the adjustment, I’ve never been more tired in my life just because of all the stress and the worry and being up. It’s great though. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and we love being parents.” What would you say you miss the most about your time at Utah State?”I love it up here, especially in the summer. As far as playing basketball, you couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere. My wife wrote on Facebook one game, ‘Section F, can you just come down to New Zealand for a game? We need you.’ You’re never going to play in a place like The Spectrum. The atmosphere and the way that things were are just ridiculous. I loved that.” What are your thoughts on the continued success of the program since your graduation?”I think it’s the system and the coaches, and there’s a lot to be said of the players because they have to buy into that. Coach Morrill runs a tight ship here and he expects a lot out of his players and it takes a lot of high-character guys to buy into that and really bring it every day in practice and really work on what it takes to be successful. As long as you find guys that will buy into what the coaching staff is trying to accomplish, they’re going to be successful here.” What are your summers like now?”Basically, I just take it easy. I work all year long and then summers are kind of just time to relax, golf and be with my family. Logan’s great. Nobody is really here in the summer so you don’t have to battle any traffic, you’ve got Bear Lake close, Salt Lake is close, so we kind of just relax and take our time to enjoy ourselves.” What is next for you for your basketball career?”New Zealand has offered a two-year deal for me to go back there, which is a great situation. We’re going to just weigh our options. We had a great year so a lot of good things are coming up. We’ll most likely head back to Europe and we’ll see what teams are interested and what offers they have compared to what New Zealand’s got, so that’s the future.” -USU-
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