There are two things that Mississippi State alum Darryl “Super D” Wilson is known for: having laser-like focus and having laser-like accuracy from the 3-point line. After leading the Bulldogs to its lone NCAA Final Four appearance, Wilson embarked on a professional career in Europe that spanned a decade. He channeled his passion for the game of basketball into a passion for teaching others. His no-nonsense expectations of the players he coaches drive them to excellence, because he knows how important discipline and work ethic are to success. He shares all his life lessons with enthusiasm, humor, and truth. Read more about Wilson’s journey and his advice for young athletes seeking to live their dreams through sports.
At the onset of our interview I asked Wilson, “What advice regarding finances and professional decisions did he wish he had known at the beginning of his career?” His answers ranged from being more frugal to curbing impulse spending. Although we were interrupted a few times, we were able to discuss the importance of having a plan at the very beginning. Here is just a portion of all the insights Wilson was kind enough to share.
TAN: “Thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom with our readers. As our conversation started, you shared a few things with me, off the record, about always making sure family is your first priority financially. Would you be so kind as to repeat it?”
DW: “Absolutely! Basically, I learned not to live in the moment. The game of life is not a 100-yard dash, it’s a marathon. To maintain the marathon, you have to have stamina. You have to make sure you have enough money to get you through the hard times. You have to keep your bread right.”
TAN: “You have been fortunate enough to play professionally in Europe. With that privilege comes highs and lows. What was the most difficult thing about playing professionally?”
DW: “The hardest part, without a doubt, was leaving my family. It depends on whether you’re married, have a girlfriend, kids, a mom…It depends on the type of person you are. Because if you love to play, traveling doesn’t bother you. It’s being away from your loved ones that takes its toll.
If you’re not an adapter, if you have trouble adapting to your environment, it really makes things difficult. Not being able to speak the language, in my case. The different ways others see the world, the different thought processes in other countries can be difficult to adjust to. When things go wrong, people are going to blame the person from out of town. Automatically, the finger gets pointed at you.”
TAN: “And what was the most difficult thing about when the music stopped?”
DW: “Like you just said, when it’s over its over. There are no do-overs. You have to try to just remember the times you had. All the friends you made and the people who touched you in your life are important. If you’re a real person, someone is going to help you adapt and try to make a difference in your life. It’s a beautiful thing.”
TAN: “What were your best experiences while you played?”
DW: “While playing, the best times were getting to experience everything you studied in school. Visiting the places you read about, getting to actually see them. I saw sites all over the world. My son got to experience going to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That’s bananas! My wife got to experience going to Jerusalem, the old city. My son has been more places as a child then the average adult. He has forgotten more places than most people will ever see. My daughter caught the tail end of my playing years and she got to visit Italy a few times. That was a great experience for her and she was just an arm baby. As a Dad and as a husband. it makes me very proud to have been able to provide that opportunity to them. We got a chance to see it all!”
TAN: “What was the best part of when it was over?”
DW: “Getting to be home with my family full-time.”
TAN: ”Getting to be home for the holidays, I’m sure.”
DW: “No, getting to be home every day. You miss out on so much on the road. I miss playing like hell, but I love being home for all the little moments.”
TAN: “I have to ask you about your choice in colleges. With the intensity of college and state rivalries, what made you choose Mississippi State?”
Wilson interrupts playfully.
DW: “I’m from Alabama, so I crossed the line.”
DW: “Naw! Hold on now! When I explain this to you, you are going to say I did the right thing. My junior year in high school, I averaged 36.1 points a game. Senior year I averaged 38.7 points. Well, my route was different, because I struggled to pass my ACT. I had lots of Junior colleges that wanted me to play, but frankly I thought I was better than that. That’s the type of person I am. I wanted more. Alabama thought I was too small, Auburn wanted me to go to Junior college. Mississippi called me and gave me a chance. They were willing to invest in me. It was a test, and I rose to the challenge.”
TAN: “As we wrap up our conversation, what memory from your childhood helped shape the person that you are?”
DW: “Every tail whooping I got as a child,” he mused. “And I deserved all of them. I was off the chain. But seriously, I remember I always wanted to play sports. I was good at baseball, football, but I was a natural at basketball. I remember countless nights in my backyard practicing. I had a wooden pole with an old wooden backboard. I drew a white square on the backboard, and in the moonlight all I could see was the white square. I would be outside for hours and only be able to see the net and the square. I trained myself to shoot like that. I didn’t need to see the rim, just make out the outline. I figured if I could make shots like that in the dark, then turn the lights on and I’ll shoot your a—out!
TAN: “That work ethic, that repetition shaped you…”
DW: “Absolutely! If you make it to Division I or the professional level, you have talent. That’s the easy part. It’s the work ethic that makes you great. People see your talent and can give you everything they want to give you. Advice, opportunities, whatever; but if you don’t go out and take it for yourself, it’s a waste if you don’t really want it, if you’re not willing to work. You, as the individual, are the only one that will get it done. Growing up, I always wanted to be the best, and I still work hard.”
TAN: “What are you doing now, that’d you’d like to share with our readers?”
DW: “I am the Head Coach at Itawamba AHS, and I still make sure to give back to those in my hometown of Kennedy. Although Mississippi was good to me, Alabama is home. There is nothing but love and admiration for what I was able to achieve back there. There is still a lot of appreciation for what I was able to do for my team. My home town is proud and that makes my very happy. I was raised to be respectful and do things the right way. It has paid off.”
We are so excited to watch Wilson’s NEXT Quarter unfold!
By LaToya Baker of The Athlete’s NeXus