A TIGER, BLUE AND TRUE By Adam K. Moussa
In 2008, Wesley Witherspoon came to the University of Memphis as a member of one of the Tigers' most highly-touted recruiting classes in recent history. Flash forward to 2012, and the player Tigers fans have come to know simply as "Spoon" stands as the lone 2008 scholarship signee on this season's roster. "These last four years have been quite a journey," said Witherspoon. "I have seen a lot of players and coaches come and go throughout my time here, but I am proud of the fact that I stayed and held true to my word. I had the opportunity to leave, but I didn't. I signed up to play for Memphis and that is exactly what I have done."
During his Tigers career, Witherspoon has experienced championship wins and disheartening losses, all the while combating nagging knee injuries that twice required surgery. But, through it all, the 6-foot-9, 207-pound senior has retained the fun-loving, jokester attitude he has become known for by teammates and fans alike. "I don't know why you would play the game if you don't want to have fun," Witherspoon stated. "You have to laugh. You can't go through life constantly worrying, and you can't look back. You just have to continue to move forward TIGER BASKETBALL . OS
and learn from your experiences, and that is what I have tried to do throughout my time here." Today, the Atlanta, Ga., native is closing in on becoming the newest member of Memphis' 1,000-point club, one of Tigers basketball's most exclusive fraternities. Entering the final month of his career wearing the Blue and Gray, Witherspoon needs approximately 150 points to reach that milestone. But, more than the points he has scored throughout his career, Witherspoon cherishes the maturation process he has gone through, the memories he has made and the relationships he has forged at Memphis. "Many college athletes haven't experienced all that I have, the good and the bad," said Witherspoon. "But, the memories I have made, the bonds have built and everything I have learned are what I will remember once my time here is over." Preston Laird, who came to the Tigers as a walk-on in 2008 and has been Witherspoon's roommate ever since, shares a similar sentiment. TIGER BASKETBALL â€˘ 06
"I have seen Wesley grow and mature a lot over the years, but the unique thing about him is that he is still himself," said Laird. "He is still that same jolly, fun, light-hearted guy that I came in with, and all of the memories and laughs we have shared over the years greatly outweigh the tough times that we have been through. "Living this basketball life is kind of like a movie. You have all of the drama, but every once in a while, you'll get that moment of comic relief that makes you feel good again. To me, that's Wesley. He's that comic relief that keeps you going, and it will be an honor to stand beside him on Senior Day."
"I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU WOULD PLAY THE GAME IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE FUN." For Witherspoon, the thought of his rapidly-approaching regular season FedExForum finale has him shaking his head in a little disbelief that it's drawing near. "I really can't believe that it has been four years. The time has gone by so fast," said Witherspoon. "But, I know that I don't want to rewind years from now and have any regrets. So as long as I have that Memphis jersey on, I am going to play my part and give it all have every time I step on the floor."