Sometimes, life has a strange way of coming full circle.
That’s the case for Dave Wilson.
In 1995, Wilson was a senior on the Andrew basketball team.
“My last high school game was at The Pit in Lockport,” Wilson said of the old gym at the Lockport Central campus. “We lost by three (47-44 in a regional semifinal) and were knocked out of the playoffs.”
Now Wilson is back at Lockport and very much involved in the boys basketball program as the new head coach. He becomes the eighth head coach for the Porters in the past 70 seasons.
What if someone would have told him after that final disappointing loss that he’d be at Lockport, just over 28 years later, as the Porters’ head coach?
“I’d say, ‘Not a chance,’ ” Wilson said. “That would be like a Bears fan going for the Packers. But the history here is undeniable, and the school wants to win.”
“That would be like a Bears fan going for the Packers. But the history here is undeniable, and the school wants to win.”— Dave Wilson, new Lockport boys basketball head coach
Yes, they do.
The Porters have done plenty of winning throughout the years. They’ve advanced downstate six times, with three trophies, including an undefeated (33-0) Class AA state championship in the 1977-78 season. That came in the midst of an amazingly successful 26-year run from 1962-63 through 1987-88 when Lockport’s worst record was 18-8 and there were 24 seasons of 20 wins or more.
In that span, the Porters went to state four times, finishing fourth in 1972-73. They also won 17 regional titles and captured eight sectional championships.
However, not only has Lockport not won a regional title since the 2010-11 season, but it hasn’t played in a regional championship game since then, either. Yes, under Brett Hespell (105-111 record in eight seasons), who now is head coach at Minooka, the program recently had three straight winning seasons and four out of the past five. But with the exception of winning a play-in game, come postseason time it’s been one-and-done.
So what makes Wilson, who was the head coach at Andrew between 2014-15 and last season, the guy for the job of leading the Porters to postseason success?
“We are very excited to bring Dave Wilson in as our next head coach,” Lockport athletic director Mike Dwyer said. “We had an excellent pool of candidates, and Dave’s vision, plan and passion really stood out. He brings a blue-collar work ethic and tremendous confidence to our program and athletic family.
“Dave has already made great connections with our feeder programs and will continue fostering great relationships with our staff, student-athletes and community.”
After graduating from Andrew, Wilson played at North Central under Bill Warden and graduated with a degree in finance in 1999. He worked in the financial industry until 2008, then started a career in education at Andrew after earning a teaching certificate. He also earned a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2012.
Taking over the basketball program in the 2014-15 season, there were some struggles early on for Wilson and the Thunderbolts.
“The basketball program up to that point had one conference championship and two regional titles (1989-90 and 2011-12) in nearly 40 years,” Wilson said. “The longest streak finishing with a winning record was three years in a row (1989-90 through 1991-92 and 2010-11 through 2012-13).
“But since 2016-17, Andrew basketball has two (SouthWest Suburban) Conference (Red) titles (2017-18 and 2020-21), one regional title (in 2021-22) and has had a winning record for six of the last seven years and four years in a row. I have 110 career wins. In the last four years, however, we were 62-38.”
Behind any numbers like that is a lot of work and a strong commitment to the process. That’s what Wilson plans to have with the Porters. He already made an impression on a couple of players during the summer league play.
“I love our new coach,” Lockport senior Logan Cooper said. “He’s shown that he’s ready to be our coach, and we’re ready for him. With his mentality, we know we can go far. We can win a regional.”
Jack Bartyczak, a 6-foot-10 senior, agreed.
“Coach is setting high standards,” he said of Wilson. “Those that go above and beyond.”
Wilson knows the Porters are itching to once again be big winners and is looking ahead to the process of getting them there.
“Achieving big results is only attainable through high expectations and above-average commitment,” Wilson said. “Lockport with its rich basketball tradition and massive administrative support is a fantastic one-two punch for building a consistent, competitive culture.
“We will be tough, unselfish and efficient in our approach and develop positive leaders in the community along the way. The program will look to unite the community, feeder schools, players and parents to believe in one vision, attack with unbridled enthusiasm and reclaim the title of heavyweight champs in southwest suburban hoops.”