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Priory’s Wilmsen remains undecided between basketball, football

On the day when Priory senior Harrison Wilmsen almost didn’t play basketball because of an injury, he set a career high for scoring – and contracted COVID-19.

Harrison Wilmsen
Harrison Wilmsen with Priory coach Bob McCormack (Source: Cathy Tweedie/Priory High)

“I had a thigh contusion. I didn’t know I was gonna play the day before because it was so bruised,” Wilmsen said. “I religiously iced it and got it to where I could put pressure on it.”

The icing was enough and the Des Peres resident got the chance to play, scoring 47 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for the Ravens in a 63-51 victory at Fort Zumwalt East. 

“I also got Covid that night from a player on Fort Zumwalt East,” the 6-foot-9, 225-pound senior forward said. 

The 47 points came two days after Wilmsen scored 32 points and pulled down 11 rebounds against Lutheran St. Charles. That was fun. The virus wasn’t. 

“My symptoms were really bad,” Wilmsen said. “I had to work super hard just to get back where I started. I quarantined for 14 days.”

Scoring a career high and contracting and beating the dreaded virus would make for an eventful senior season. But Wilmsen also hit a career milestone this year. He topped the 1,000-point plateau in a victory over Affton.

“Scoring 1,000 points is a for sure milestone of my career,” Wilmsen said. “Whenever I’m on the floor I want to dominate the game. We have a lot more games this senior year and hitting 1,500 points would be my dream.

“I wouldn’t have been able to score 1,000 without a lot of people mentoring me along the way. I owe all my success to my mentors.”

Priory coach Bob McCormack, who recently hit a milestone himself with 500 career wins, is happy for Wilmsen. He put Wilmsen on the varsity as a 6-foot-5 freshman. 

“Through the years, he’s just improved game by game and season by season,” McCormack said. “I consider him the best big man in the area. I can’t say enough good things about him. He comes from an athletic family. His father, Jamie, played at Priory. His brother, Holden, was a football and basketball player at Priory and went on to play football at Dartmouth. So he has that athleticism in his family. He had great basketball IQ so I was comfortable with him as a freshman. To watch him from being a freshman to a senior is pretty special.”

Wilmsen still has goals for his senior season, including chasing the records of Priory standouts Bill Dake and Charlie Ferrick. Dake’s 2,000-career-point record may be out of reach, but he might be able to pass Ferrick if the virus doesn’t cause many games to be missed.

“I hope to come as close as I can,” Wilmsen said. “I would be extremely grateful to be No. 2 on all-time scoring.”

Wilmsen credits McCormack with making him a better player.

“Coach McCormick has a lot to do with my success,” Wilmsen said. “He is almost a second dad. He supports me not only on the court but also outside of it. The player I am today is largely in part due to coach McCormick. He is a great coach and a better man.”

Priory has not won a district championship since 1969. Last year, the Ravens played for the district championship and lost to Westminster Christian Academy. Wilmsen and his teammates would like to snap that streak.

“I am blessed to be able to play basketball this year. I treat every game as if it might be the last because you never know,” Wilmsen said. “We have had two quarantines which has been hard, but we are thirsty for a district championship so that’s what we plan on doing.”

Wilmsen is also a talented quarterback, so his college and career options are two-fold but for now, he just wants to concentrate on this basketball season.

“My goal right now is to work hard and win districts. Winning districts is my dream and biggest priority,” Wilmsen said. “After the basketball season, I will sit down and weigh all my options out.”

McCormack will missed his “big guy.”

“There’s never a time when he doesn’t have a smile on his face,” McCormack said. “We’ll miss him when he’s gone.”

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