‘Sav’s back’ – Savannah Wilkinson talks College success and GB ambitions
She describes her social media as having been crazy for the last few months, turning off her notifications on multiple occasions due to an avalanche of messages about her sparkling form.
It is a nice problem to have. Savannah Wilkinson has been dominating over in the United States as her performances for Southern Methodist University Women’s Basketball programme, earning ‘Sav’ significant acclaim throughout the season and a nomination to the All-AAC Second Team.
Wilkinson has been dominant for SMU and, before she notched her 13th double-double of the season last night in the team’s AAC Quarter-Final win against Temple, she discussed her remarkable form and hopes for the future last week.
“Being at my new school, I think I’ve just got coaching staff and teammates that want me to do well,” Wilkinson said. “They’ve instilled so much confidence in me and even if I have an ‘OK’ game, they encourage me so much that I feel like I’ve had the best game ever.
“I’m one of the go-to players on the team, I get to take the shots that I want to take because I’ve got in the gym and shown what I can do, and I’ve done as well as I have here because the team have stuck with me even when the ball hasn’t been dropping through the hoop sometimes.
“Having the support from home has been unreal. I’m here representing my school, myself, but I’m also representing GB so to do well means a lot to me and it feels like I’m wearing that GB jersey invisibly when I’m out here performing every day.”
“I still don’t think I’ve shown my best self yet”
Transferring from Florida State to come to SMU, Wilkinson has thrived in her new surroundings and has relished being given much more responsibility for the success of her team.
While she admitted she has surpassed her own expectations for the season so far, so have her team as they finished fifth in the American Athletic Conference after being tipped at the start of the year to end up 10th in the standings.
“I have been surprised at myself, if I’m honest. I had a big role at Florida State previously, but it wasn’t the same as what I have here, where I’m expected and trusted to score, get rebounds, be a leader and put my team in a position to be successful, it has been such a blessing.
“We were predicted to be 10th in our league and we’ve finished fifth, so we’ve done very well. To be able to have that kind of role and success, I was very shocked at myself. I was doubting myself when I first arrived whether I could still do it and still had it in me, but I’ve worked a lot on that mentally.
“I still don’t think I’ve shown my best self yet, I still have more to do and bring back to my game and add to my game, so I’m still working my way to my best and I just want more now.”
“Chema’s support has been big for me”
While she’s been dominating across the pond, Wilkinson hasn’t been able to return home to take part in GB Women’s camps in recent times, but she has kept in touch with Women’s Head Coach Chema Buceta, who Wilkinson credits for his support of her efforts and decisions.
“Being out in America it is difficult to come home for any reason, even for GB,” she said. “Because we don’t get a national team break like the WBBL and so on do, so that is frustrating. But I’ve had conversations with Chema about it and told him as soon as I’ve got my degree then I’m 100% committed.
“Chema has been really helpful and the last time we spoke was before I’ve had this good run of form and he told me ‘we need the Sav that we’ve had since you were 15 years old’ and his support has been big for me.
“It has been exciting to watch other young players come through and have their debuts, such as Holly Winterburn last time. I’m super proud of them, super happy for them, and I want us to continue to be successful when we can all get together in the future. Even if I have to wake up at 6am or whatever, I don’t miss GB games because I want to show my support however I can.”
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