Damian Lillard’s announcement that he is going to the 2012 NBA Draft comes from a four-year basketball career at Weber State University.
Lillard grew up in Oakland, Calif. He went to Oakland High School where he played for Coach Orlando Watkins. He was First Team All-League his junior and senior seasons and averaged 28 points a game as a senior, with a single game high of 45.
“I came from a city where almost everything was negative and violent,” Lillard said in an interview earlier this season. “I was real scared that I wouldn’t make it to this point. I was a good kid and always did what I was supposed to, but you never know. I’m just proud of the friends and the family that really looked out for me and pushed me in a good direction.”
As a freshman at WSU, Lillard was unanimously named Big Sky Freshman of the Year. He helped lead the Wildcats to a 21-10 record on the season and a 15-1 Big Sky record and a Big Sky season title. He played in all 31 games during the season and started 26, including all 16 Big Sky games, averaging 11.5 points a game his freshman year. He also made 49 3-pointers on the year and had six dunks.
“I came to Weber State, and I was not as good as I wanted to be,” Lillard said. “I was First Team All-Conference, but I wasn’t as good as I felt like I should be.”
Lillard did not slow down after that. His sophomore year, he earned the Big Sky Conference MVP and First Team All-Conference for the second year in a row. He earned Honorable Mention All-American honors by the Associated Press and averaged 19.9 points a game, scoring 617 on the season.
After two successful seasons with the Wildcats, Lillard faced his first serious injury. He broke his foot in the ninth game of the 2010-11 season. He received a medical redshirt on the season because he played less than 30 percent of the year. During those nine games, Lillard averaged 19.7 points and shot nearly 44 percent from the field.
“I had never been hurt before, and it was tough,” Lillard said. “My recovery was way better than I had expected.”
He earned All-American honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He is one of 15 to earn this honor and one of three not from a power conference. He is the first player in Big Sky history to earn the All-American honor from the NABC.
This season, he was named the MVP of the Big Sky and the District VIII Player of the year, leading the Wildcats to a 25-7 overall record and a 14-2 Big Sky record. He led the nation in scoring for most of the season and is currently second in the country with an average of 24.5 points a game. That’s the best single season average in school history.
Lillard scored in double figures for all 32 games for the Wildcats. He scored 20 or more points 22 different times, over 30 in eight different games and over 40 in two games.
He also earned Big Sky player of the week five different times and National Player of the Week in January. He ranks 12th in the nation for free throw percentage after shooting 88.7 percent this season. He is 15th in the nation for 3-pointers per game after he made 94 this season.
In his career with the Wildcats, Lillard has appeared in 103 games and started 98. He is second in WSU history in career scoring with a total of 1,934 points, which is also fifth in Big Sky history. He is WSU’s career leader in 3-pointers with 246 and free throws made with 520.
Lillard said his favorite thing about playing at WSU was the team was more of a family than a team.
“We have always been a family on this team,” Lillard said. “Everybody gets excited about winning a game, and that says a lot about how we are together as a team.”