Danielle Wilson played college basketball at Baylor for three years, averaging 11.0 points and 6.9 rebounds with a then-school-record 201 blocked shots before leaving after the 2008-09 season to raise her son.
But Wilson, Newsday's 2006 player of the year from St. John the Baptist, wanted to finish what she started. Now the 6-3 forward is a star all over again at Dowling. She is the East Coast Conference player of the year, and on Sunday she helped the Golden Lions win the conference title and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Wilson had 27 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and two steals in Dowling's 72-49 victory over NYIT in the title game. She had 16 points in the first half as Dowling (25-3) took a 38-21 lead. The Golden Lions' Christine Verrelle, the tournament MVP, finished with 15 points and Connie Simmons added 13.
NYIT (23-5), led by Rebecca Lynch's 14 points, is expected to get an at-large bid.
Dowling became a good fit for Wilson because the school is close to her home in Bay Shore. "The first thing was, I had to take care of my son," she said of Kingsley, now 3. "I wanted to be close to home, have that support with my family.''
Dowling coach Joe Pellicane and athletic director Rick Cole Jr. were impressed with Wilson's desire to earn a degree in communications.
"I don't think we have the philosophy here of just picking up players for the sake of winning,'' Cole said. "She's a terrific woman. The gravy is she's just an outstanding basketball player.''
"We didn't know what she was going to bring to the table,'' Simmons said. "She's helped us out a lot. Offense and defense, she does it all.''
Wilson, averaging 17.0 points and 10.6 rebounds with 81 blocked shots, also works part-time at Sears and has uniform laundry duties along with the rest of her teammates. "She's never said she's from the big time or expects anything,'' Pellicane said.
Wilson, whose blocked-shot total has been surpassed by 6-8 Brittney Griner, does not miss the brighter light of Division I. Of her experiences since then, she said, "I learned a lot and I grew up a lot. It made me stronger.''