In his first two seasons at GW, junior Noel Wilmore was largely a player without a role. He averaged just more than two points and less than eight minutes per contest, coming off the bench in every game he played. His most visible moment was likely not his proudest but one that many GW fans remember well: an airball tipped in by a teammate for a history-making, buzzer-beating win over Charlotte two years ago.
Now it appears Wilmore has found his spot on the team. With his career-high 24 points in Wednesday’s 85-68 win over Rhode Island, the Philadelphia native has carved a niche as a three-point specialist. His shots came early and often, and he connected on all five of his first-half attempts from beyond the arc to lead all scorers with 15 at the break.
“This guy sitting next to me,” head coach Karl Hobbs said in the post-game press conference, gesturing towards Wilmore. “I think he was the difference. He made every big shot and every shot that he took, it was almost a dagger.”
Wilmore said that the attention garnered by teammate Rob Diggs inside, coupled with the selflessness of the rest of the Colonials, have created more chances for him to take shots that he likes.
“I think some other guys are taking a little less shots, so the ball swings around a little bit more,” he said after the game. “I’m getting opportunities early in the game to get easy set shots, which is what I’m looking for and how I can get going.”
Having come into the season with 13 points as his best collegiate output, Wilmore has now topped that mark three times this season, all of them coming in the month of February. Hobbs said that his team, which he continually refers to as a “work in progress,” has adapted to take advantage of Wilmore’s shooting strength. He appears more comfortable and confident on the floor than in previous years, at one point abruptly turning his back to the action after the fourth of his seven three-pointers prompted a Rhode Island timeout and a Smith Center standing ovation.
“Any time I get nine shots from the three, nine good looks, I always feel good afterwards,” Wilmore said.
“Make or miss,” Hobbs quipped.
Fortunately for GW, it has been more of the former lately. Wilmore is now shooting a team-best 43 percent from downtown, including 51 percent in February. Wednesday’s 7-for-9 performance moved him into the conference’s top-15 in the category. At this rate, a spot on the conference leader board is a role that Wilmore might not have trouble getting used to.