Ex-basketball star convicted of assault

Published 7:45 am Tuesday, December 17, 2013

During his days as a Dowagiac High School Chieftain, Darius Wilson was known for his many talents, on and off the basketball court.

The standout star of the school’s varsity team, Wilson helped lead the Chieftains all the way to the final four of Michigan’s Class B tournament in 2011. While his superb skills on the court helped blaze the trail, it was his intangible qualities that his teammates counted on for that extra push to victory.

“He was our unspoken leader,” said Head Coach Danum Hunt. “He would be the motivator, giving the team the courage it needed to pull through when we were behind.”

It came as no surprise to Hunt when he learned that Wilson planned to continue his promising basketball career at the collegiate level. After graduating, Wilson played for the North Iowa Area Community College team, where he played for a year before transferring to Kankakee Community College in Illinois.

Since then, Wilson’s life has taken a dramatically different turn.

Last week, Wilson, who is now 22, was convicted by a Cass County jury for participating in the assault of a man who testified against his friend. Wilson now faces up to 15 years in prison for his actions.

According to testimony presented during the trial, Wilson, along with two other accomplices, confronted the victim at the Rotary Park in Dowagiac during the afternoon of April 5, punching him to the ground before kicking his head and torso. The prosecution claimed the assault was done in retaliation for the victim’s testimony given during the trial of Justin Young, who was sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison after being found guilty of home invasion in February.

In the eyes of his former coach, Wilson’s participation in the assault was out of character for the student he helped shape during his three years on the High School basketball court.

“He was always helping people, however he could,” Hunt said. “He was a good kid, with a great smile and a great personality.”

Wilson was quite popular among his fellow students and developed a close relationship with his teammates, Hunt said.

“He got along well with all of his teammates,” he said. “They were all like family, like brothers.”

Wilson also got along very well with younger students, frequently participating in basketball clinics for elementary and middle school players, Hunt said.

“He was always encouraging them to continue to develop their game,” he said.

Hunt, who also serves as a student advocate with the high school, developed a strong bond with his charge, mentoring Wilson inside and outside of basketball practice.

“We talked a lot outside of school, whenever we bumped into each other at the store or at an event,” Hunt said. “We had a great relationship with one another.”

While Wilson had a prior felony charge on his record for stealing a vehicle, Hunt said Wilson never demonstrated any violent tendencies throughout the years he has known him.

“There weren’t too many people he had issues with,” Hunt said. “He wasn’t a fighter or a brawler.”

Since Wilson’s graduation, Hunt said the two have kept in contact. The two have talked since the arrest, with Hunt providing advice to his former player on how to deal with his current situation.

“It’s unfortunate that a young man of his potential is caught up in this situation,” Hunt said. “He still has a lot to offer, not only as an athlete but as a person as well.”

Cass County prosecutors have charged two other men, Terron Young and Tyquil Douglas, for allegedly participating with Wilson in the assault. The two are set to be tried in March.