Conner Wilson Making Full Recovery, Looking Forward To Being A Bear
STRAFFORD - As his senior basketball season wound down to the final stages, Strafford senior Conner Wilson made what he called the most difficult decision of his life.
A standout on both the basketball court and baseball field, Wilson was an all-state selection in basketball and pounded out nine home runs while hitting .638 as a junior.
This year, Wilson, a 6-foot-4 wing player, led the Strafford boys' basketball team to the Missouri Class 3 state championship game where they fell to Hogan Prep.
Less than 48 hours later, he hit his first home run of the 2011 season for the Indians' baseball team.
Wilson, who suffered a shoulder injury during his junior year that required offseason surgery, attended a live workout for the University of Missouri baseball coaching staff.
The workout was an opportunity for Wilson to show he had made a full recovery, and he impressed, walking away with an offer from Mizzou to attend the school as a walk-on.
Not long afterwards, however, Missouri State followed with an offer of its own.
Wilson had to choose not only which school to attend, but which sport to play.
"It was very tough, it was definitely the toughest decision I have ever had to make in my life," Wilson said.
But on Feb. 23, Wilson chose the Bears.
"There are pros and cons about each (school) that I had (offers from)," Wilson said. "But I thought it (MSU) was the best place for me.
"It was based around family ... they can come watch me play."
Wilson said being close to home so his family can come watch him play was a factor, as well as Missouri State's optometry program.
Wilson said he also had an opportunity to play basketball at an NCAA Division II or NAIA school, but felt that, "My better opportunity was in baseball."
While Wilson possesses a live arm that saw him reach the mid 80's as a sophomore pitcher prior to his injury, Strafford head coach Shane Pierce said Missouri State University recruited Wilson first as a hitter, and could see him playing in the outfield.
"He does a really good job for us at first base," Pierce said. "When you're at shortstop and you look over there (to first base), it is nice to have (a guy who is 6-foot-4)."
A left hander, Wilson was a key part of the Indians' success on the mound as a sophomore two years ago when Strafford advanced to the Class 2 state championship game. That year he was 4-0 on the mound with a 1.87 ERA. At the plate, he hit .385 with four home runs and 18 RBIs.
Last year, Wilson suffered a partially torn labrum and a partially torn biceps tendon. On June 16, Wilson underwent an hours worth of surgery. After more than six months of rehab, he was cleared on Dec. 31 to resume throwing.
Wilson said the rehab focused on breathing, mechanics and core.
A week ago, Wilson threw in his first varsity game in what Pierce said amounted to a live bullpen session as he pitched an inning gainst Marionville.
"There have been games this year that I have wanted to throw, but I know that we are playing good teams. Not being as strong as I was before, they would probably ride me," Wilson said. "It has been an uphill battle and finally to be able to come in and throw an inning meant a lot and felt really good."
Wilson, a left handed hitter, now has more than 20 career home runs as he has followed the nine he hit as a junior with seven this season. Wilson, who rarely sees many pitches to hit, is hitting .471 with 28 RBIs this spring, but has just 54 official at-bats.