December 31, 2021 - by
Wyatt Wilkes: A Mother’s Influence

RALEIGH, N.C. (seminoles.com) – Though he was raised in a household dominated by two of the greatest names in Sunshine State basketball, Florida State redshirt senior Wyatt Wilkes credits his mom for his success as a player. 

His grandfather, Glenn Wilkes, is recognized as the “Godfather of Basketball” in the state of Florida.  He served as the head men’s basketball coach at Stetson from 1957 to 1993 and was the Hatters’ Director of Athletics from 1968 to 1990.  He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.  Wyatt’s father, Glenn Wilkes, Jr., is in his 36th season as the Head Coach of the Rollins College women’s team.  He has won more than 725 games, taken his team to the NCAA Tournament 15 times, and coached six All-Americans. 

However, it will be his mother, Kim, whose wisdom he will draw from when the Seminoles travel to play at NC State on New Year’s Day at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.  The Seminoles’ game against the Wolfpack is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. and will be televised on the ACC Network. 

As Kim remembers (like all moms do), Wyatt’s first steps were taken in the Rollins College Gymnasium and his first stuffed toy was actually a basketball.  At an early age, Wyatt was encouraged to play many sports and not to focus on just basketball.  However, as many sons of successful parents often do, Wyatt gravitated towards the family business and made his first AAU team before he was a freshman in high school. 

“We told him he couldn’t be on an AAU team until he could drive,” said Kim.  “His coach convinced us to let him play on his AAU team at the end of eighth grade. We just wanted Wyatt to enjoy playing. To have fun. To not become a professional at 10.”

It was from there that Wyatt’s basketball career began to come into focus.  He earned a spot as a starter on the Winter Park High School varsity team as a freshman and averaged in double figures during his 114-game prep career.  A prep star, Wilkes totaled 1,474 points and 812 rebounds.  He earned All-State Class 8A Second Team honors as a senior and was an All-Area First Team selection in 2015 and 2016 by the Orlando Sentinel.

None of the accolades he has earned in his career would have been possible without his mom. She cooked breakfast at 5:00 a.m. for two-a-day practices, washed the uniforms, drove to AAU pick up locations before the sun came up, rubbed sore feet, kept dinner from getting cold, calculated stats, and worked the concession stands, and instilled a competitive spirit in her sons.

“My entire family is insanely competitive and she (my mom) might be the most competitive,” said Wyatt.   “It’s a fact that she has not one time ever let me win at anything. No board game, no card game. Ever.”

It’s easy to see where Kim gets her incredible drive – as a mother of two basketball-playing sons and a collegiate star in her own right.

Kim is the second all-time scoring leader for the Rollins College Women’s team with 1,916 points. She is the career leader at Rollins in two categories (points per game average and field goals made) and is second in nine other categories.  She was a four-time All-Sunshine State Conference pick who led Rollins to three SSC regular season championships and two Conference tournament championships and is in the Sunshine State and Central Florida Halls of Fame. 

“Everyone assumes that since Glenn is a coach and the son of a legend that he coached Wyatt,” said Kim.  “The truth is, Glenn never said anything to them about how to play unless the boys (Wyatt and Van) asked him. He wanted to be their dad and not their coach — which I really respect.”  “But I didn’t feel that way – I went to every game Wyatt ever played until AAU travel.  I yelled out what to do during quiet moments, and I have the loudest clap that they would hear across the gym.”  

Wyatt remembers that his “dad had switched [him] from shooting left-handed to right-handed.   After that, [my mom] would to take me to the gym every day and actually taught me how to shoot right-handed.” 

“I was a really good free throw shooter,” said Kim.  “So I took Wyatt to the gym and taught him how to shoot free throws and how to post up.  Because he was tall, everyone wanted him to be a center, but he wanted to be a guard. Kim’s most memorable story of Wyatt’s basketball upbringing sounds like it comes straight out of a movie. 

“Once when he was in fifth or sixth grade, I had Van [his brother] take a note to him while he was on the bench about what he needed to do the second half,” said Kim.  “If there was some aspect of the game that I thought he could improve on, like rebounding, I would try to make him more cognizant of it.  I always told him that the only thing he had in his control was how hard he played and how he acted.” Van, who became

Wyatt’s most formidable opponent on the driveway court at the Wilkes’ home in Orlando, played alongside Wyatt for one season at Winter Park High School.  

Wyatt recalls: “If I didn’t want to go work out when I was a kid, she would say something like ‘your dad told me Austin Rivers has been working out at the gym for two hours already.’  She knew I wanted to be better than him one day, so I would of course get on my bike and ride down to the gym and  put up shots.”

Kim’s competitive side helped Wyatt create one of the most stringent pre-practice and pre-game workout routines among any of the current or recent Seminoles.  He is taped and on the court at least one hour before every practice begins and is always the first Seminole on the court before every game.

Wyatt’s routines have helped him become a successful student and collegiate player during his career.  He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities from Florida State University on April 23, 2021 and is currently pursuing a second Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science.  Wilkes has been a member of three NCAA Tournament teams (2018, 2019 and 2021), the Seminoles’ 2020 ACC Championship team and two ACC Tournament finalist teams. 

The next time Wyatt steps to the free throw line, and you hear a thunderous clap or an encouraging word from the Seminole faithful, there’s a pretty good shot that it’s Kim Wilkes cheering on her son.

And she’s also there to remind him that she’s the only four-time All-American in the Wilkes’ household.

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