By Jeff Robison
— More than 60 of Indiana’s top high school senior boys’ basketball players showed their skills Sunday at Marian University as participants at the 26th Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 60 Senior Boys Workout.
Fittingly, the Ben Davis Giants, long considered one of the state’s top Class 4A programs, had senior guard Tony Wills on the floor.
“I really enjoyed myself playing (today),” Wills said. “This was really good for all of the Top 60 to get together one last time.”
Wills, the Giants’ premier player during their 16-7 campaign, initially let his game earn a spot on the Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 100 Seniors list. When that list was pared down further, he made the final cut.
That Wills earned a spot came as no surprise to Hoosier Basketball Magazine publisher Garry Donna, who has spent most of his life watching and evaluating basketball talent in Indiana.
“Tony is a good athlete from a good Class 4A program,” Donna said. “He was a Junior All-Star, and he was well-coached by Mark James. He had all of that going for him.”
As a junior, Wills filled a role primarily as a scorer alongside his older brother Harry Wills. As a senior, his responsibilities were expanded, as he added team leadership to his duties.
“(Ben Davis) Coach (Mark) James and I had a talk (before the season),” Wills said. “I knew I had to score more, rebound, and do more of the little things and hustle plays to get my team to win. I tried my best to do that.”
Wills’ game, which was strong enough to place him on last summer’s Core Six of the Indiana Junior All-Stars, showed plenty of growth this year. He often carried a heavy burden for the 2012-13 Giants, learning much from James.
“To me, coach James is the best high school coach in the state,” Wills said. “Without him and my family’s support, I don’t think I would be going to Illinois State. He taught me that it’s the little things that count.”
The Top 60 Workout was Wills’ first major playing time since having his Ben Davis career end with fouling out and losing to rival Pike in the sectional final.
Some of the sting from that defeat remains.
“It was a very hard loss, and I feel bad for my teammates,” Wills said. “I still think about that loss and the plays run through my head. But I hope I can use that for motivation next year.”
Some of the favorite memories that Wills is taking away from his playing days include winning a sectional title as a freshman and his career-high scoring night of 34 points against a Lawrence Central team that featured Indiana University’s Jeremy Hollowell at the time.
While he hopes the summer will include a spot on the Indiana All-Stars, part of his future is already known — a basketball scholarship to Illinois State awaits — and, hopefully so does a chance to contribute at a higher level.
“Illinois State lost their top two scorers, so I think I can help them with scoring the ball,” Wills said.