Wesley Person Jr. makes it where Dad didn't: NCAA tourney
TROY, Ala. (AP) Wesley Person Jr. is going somewhere his father never made it and where his uncle thrived: the NCAA Tournament.
The Troy junior, son of former Auburn All-American and NBA first-round pick Wesley Sr., has helped the Trojans make their first NCAA Tournament since 2003.
''I guess I can hang that over him at the end of the day, I got to play in it and he didn't,'' the Troy guard said, smiling.
He's got a long way to go to match Uncle Chuck, though. The 15th-seeded Trojans (22-14) face No. 2 Duke (27-8) Friday night in Greenville, South Carolina.
Person was named Most Outstanding Player in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, starting with two huge games when he totaled 55 points and made 12 of 14 3-pointers.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is one of several sons of former NBA players who made the NCAA Tournament. That group includes Villanova's Jalen Brunson (son of Rick), UCLA's Bryce Alford (Steve), Virginia's Isaiah Wilkins (Dominique) and Iona's Sam Cassell Jr.
Person is more under the radar than some of them but is a prolific outside shooter, just like his more well-known family members.
The three-year starter made at least one 3-pointer in his first 61 games, a streak that was the nation's longest and ended in the second game this season against Eastern Illinois. Person is averaging 14.8 points per game and hitting 41 percent from 3-point range.
Shooting is ''in his blood,'' Troy coach Phil Cunningham said. Wesley Sr. and Chuck Person both were All-Americans at Auburn and 3-point specialists in the NBA.
While Person's father never made the NCAA Tournament, his uncle helped lead the Tigers to their first three appearances from 1984-86, including the program's only run to the Elite Eight as a senior.
The family shooting knack made for some competitive contests growing up.
''Of course, I win them,'' Person said. ''They're old now.''
But, he added, ''They can still shoot it.''
He said his uncle's advice was ''just to enjoy the moment'' and recalls seeing highlights of Chuck's NCAA Tournament games when his jersey was retired at Auburn.
''He said it was just an unbelievable feeling to play in the NCAA Tournament, all the hype that comes with it,'' Person said.
Neither of the elder Persons responded to messages seeking comment for this story. Chuck is an assistant under Bruce Pearl at his alma mater.
Wesley Sr., who comes to some Troy games, has had several legal issues in recent years, including 2012 and 2014 arrests on domestic violence charges.
Whatever the family dynamic, Wesley Jr. is thriving as a basketball player at Troy. He had a 39-point, 10 3-pointer outburst against UT Arlington in January.
''It was an unbelievable feeling,'' he said. ''I just kind of heated up and kept it going. I didn't think I'd get 10 but when I saw it at the end of the game, it was just crazy.''
He logs many hours working on his shot, and has a pre-game routine starting with shots around the basket and moving out from there. Cunningham said he arrived on campus with ''a professional approach that you rarely see in a college athlete,'' but also believes he's improved athletically and in the weight room.
''Now you have to guard him at the 3-point line,'' Cunningham said, ''but he's so good off the dribble right now he's a two-headed monster the way he is.''
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