WATSON -- Former Live Oak basketball player Baylor Wells realizes he’s now in some elite company, and that’s just fine.
It’s something he’s been working toward for a while, but he also knows that work won’t stop now.
“It’s surreal,” Wells said after signing to play with Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville during a ceremony earlier this week at C.B. Wheat Gymnasium. “You always see these statistics whenever you’re playing high school basketball that one percent or less than one percent or something don’t make it to the next level and it’s hard, and you don’t want to be one of those people that just falls off. That’s what I was always constantly working for, so I knew that there was going to be a slight chance, but I had to be determined if I wanted to make it to the next level, and … from here on out, I’ve got to be determined and work every day.”
Live Oak coach Tiras Magee said Wells is his first player to sign as a head coach.
“I’m proud of him,” Magee said. “I’m proud of him. He’s a great kid, hard worker, so he deserves to be able to go play at the next level. From a coaching standpoint, to have a kid go sign, I never really knew that feeling as a head coach, but it’s a great feeling. It’s a great feeling, and it’s really going to motivate me to help other kids try to get there as well.”
Wells, who was an honorable mention selection on both the District 4- A and All Parish basketball teams as a senior got on Trevecca’s radar after creating a profile with National Prospect ID, which created a highlight video for him. He said he took a few visits and got a call from Trevecca coach Omar Mance, who asked Wells to visit the campus.
“I went up there, spoke with them, they lined up the scholarships that they were going to set me up with, and that just felt like the best match,” Wells said. “The coaches and everybody were super personable. When I showed up, they all greeted me (by my) first name. My name was on TV. They just made you feel like you wanted you there. The coach was always calling me, following up really quick with me, and then the whole atmosphere of the university. The team seemed really good. We go to chapel twice a week together, so all that just really made me (comfortable).”
Wells said the Trevecca coaching staff was also impressed with aspects of his game.
“They told me that they like how I can finish over taller defenders,” Wells said. “That’s one thing in our district, we had a lot of tall players. We play a lot of competition, so they always told me that they liked my clips. They liked that I was playing a high competition and that I could get to the goal and finish over taller defenders.”
Magee said Wells’ game should translate well in college.
“The thing about it is, he can score on all three levels, and any time you can score on all three levels, you can play,” Magee said. “That’s what’s going to help him out. He shoots the ball well, he handles it well, and he’s a competitor. He loves to compete and plays hard, so I think he’ll do fine at Trevecca.
“I wish Baylor the best,” Magee continued. “He’s a great example for kids coming up to see that they can go play at the next level if they put in the work and make grades because his education was a big part of him getting to school, and I always preach that to my kids. I know they think basketball, but I always preach to them that they’re students first, and he’s a great example of a student-athlete, so he’s a great example for our kids and our program.”
It’s roughly an eight-hour drive to Nashville from Watson, but Wells said he’s not worried about that too much.
“It’s always nerve wracking,” Wells said. “You could always feel a little bit anxious going that far away, but overall, I’m mainly excited. I think it’s going to be OK. They have a flight that goes here to there in one stop, so that’s going to be a lot easier if I want to come back just for a weekend or something.”
Wells said he’s embracing his opportunity after working to make it a reality.
“It was always my goal to go play at the next level,” Wells said. “That’s what I worked so hard for the past couple of years. I’m feeling really excited, really accomplished and just ready to go play next year in a new environment and take my talents to the next level of basketball.”
“Everything I did, I did, I was usually focused on … ‘how can I get better today?’, and that’s what it really came down to,” Wells continued. “I just want to thank everybody that’s helped me out on this journey, and I’m really excited to see where it goes.”