BOULDER — Luke Wilson is the type of basketball player who is constantly laboring to improve himself.
Of course, to be such a player requires a certain level of self-awareness and maturity. Wilson has both in spades. He also has the right amount of basketball talent to make his strongest personality traits translate into appreciable results on the court, both for himself and his Boulder Panthers teammates.
Boulder has won at least one playoff game in each of the past four seasons and the Panthers are counting on Wilson to help keep their recent run of playoff success going.
"Obviously, last year I was kind of unknown so I got a lot of easy looks," Wilson said. "I'm going to have to work harder this year. I wasn't the best defender last year, either, so I've made that a focus and I'm really confident in my on-ball defense now."
Known or unknown, Wilson's junior campaign in 2015-16, during which he was the team's second leading scorer with 12.0 points per game, was a major factor in the Panthers reaching the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. Wilson did a bit of everything last season and will be leaned on to do the same in 2016-17, just a little bit more of, well, everything.
Likely to switch between point guard and shooting guard, the 6-foot senior will have to be more than productive while he's on the court. In a program that head coach Jack Clarke describes as a "senior program," Wilson is going to have to be a leader. He's up to the task.
"This year's team will look to last year's team as an example," Wilson said. "Our seniors last year were incredible and we'll try to replicate that with our senior leadership this year."
The Panthers are the reigning Front Range League champions but this year's league should be tougher and their non-league schedule is a gauntlet, which will make wins harder to come by but should help them under the new Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) system. While they may have graduated a number of key players since last season ended, the Panthers still plan to make their living on defense and rebounding.
Offensively, they'll emphasize possession and focus on their continuity to wear teams down. Wilson figures to be a primary contributor scoring-wise, as does senior post player Peter Chopra. Ben Davis and Henry Ryan will pitch in with their outside shooting.
Overall, this season ought to be tougher on the Panthers. But Clarke said one of the things the team's recent successes have taught the current players it is that they are up to the challenge.
"We're excited," Clarke said. "We've lost a lot but we're fortunate to have another good senior class and a strong core. Our senior leadership has been one of our greatest strengths the past few years and we're excited for this group to get their chance to lead."