Player Spotlight – Tom Willmore

Our weekly Wednesday feature continues as we catch up with another EABL player to ask what makes them tick, how they got into basketball, their goals for this season and beyond, and much more.

This week, we’re off to Oaklands for a chat with point guard Tom Willmore.

Name: Tom Willmore

Position: Point guard

Team: Oaklands College

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am from Essex and have been playing basketball since I was 11 years old.

When I was younger I did nearly every sport I could participate in. Football, athletics, basketball, karate, cross country, table tennis, badminton and more, at both primary and secondary school.

I was around the age of 13 where I decided to give up playing football as that was my main sport at the time so that I could focus on basketball.

How and where did you first get into basketball?

It was during PE at primary school I had this really nice teacher who was passionate about the sport. We started playing it and I have loved the sport ever since.

I think the main reason I liked basketball more than football is due to the fact that it is a much faster game to play, even though I played in midfield or as a striker.

Can you a remember a moment when you decided basketball was something you wanted to play more seriously? What happened?

I think it was when I began to realise how slow football was and that I wasn’t enjoying it any more compared to when I was playing basketball.

I never ended up getting bored of it!

What have been the biggest challenges of your basketball career so far? 

I think the biggest challenge was going from being a starter in a conference league to then playing in the highest U19 league in the country.

The level of play is much higher and adapting to those differences was a big step up. I managed to fit in with the team and scored 14 points in my first game which I was very proud of as a first year player.

Who is the toughest player you’ve faced? What made them so difficult to play against?

The toughest person I’ve played is probably Taylor Johnson from the Hemel Storm.

He rarely misses a shot, he’s aggressive with the ball and is so consistent with his execution. He’s a very experienced player and is someone who’s good to learn from.

What are your current goals for the season?

My personal goal is to help our team get to the EABL playoff finals because it has always been a dream to play in a major final like that, play in front of a big crowd and hopefully win the entire season.

Do you have any plans or goals for next season?

To earn a full scholarship for a university or college in the United States and push to become an even better player with extreme confidence against anybody I play against.

What are you currently working on to take your game to the next level?

Making sure that I knuckle down even more on my defence, and the skills than I already have.

A lot of my focus for the past year has been on the defensive end and it used to be an area that I struggled with, giving away silly fouls or just not staying in front of my man.

I’ve really improved my on ball and off ball defence, playing with the D1 Men against those tougher opponents has really benefitted me.

What advice would you give someone who is just getting started in basketball?

Depending on the age I would always suggest working on ball handling first as this is probably the most important skill in basketball. It can be done with two balls or a tennis ball for example, depending on what you want to work on.

Shooting is a good thing to figure out at a young age but over time as you get stronger this will come and your technique will flow a lot easier.

But if you are really motivated to get better then try to push yourself every single day to improve as time goes so quickly.

Who is your favourite basketball player and why?

My favourite basketball player has always been Steph Curry and its because of the way he has just changed the game through his long-range shooting. I really admired it when I was younger.

I would always be watching film of him shooting when I was 13 or 14 years old so that I could nail down his form because as a young player, I thought I would look at the most consistent shooter there is and copy their technique.

If they can do it then why can’t I? I’ve managed to perfect it more and more over the years.

All image credits – Lizzy Harrison

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