While Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has become one of the NBA’s elite players, he was somewhat overlooked as a college basketball prospect. Although Lillard’s story of recruitment isn’t quite to the point where only one school looked at him, there weren’t offers from high-profile programs.
When he committed to Weber State University, it wasn’t a huge shock, largely due to the fact that the other offers were from decent schools, but not the Duke’s and Kentucky’s of the world. But Lillard went to Weber State and wasted little time making an impact in his collegiate career, and it’s apparent that the immediate playing time and ability to run the show helped his career.
Damian Lillard’s Recruitment & College Offers
As Rivals.com shows, Lillard was a two-star recruit back in 2008 and didn’t receive a national or state rank for his position. Instead, the 6-foot-1 point guard out of Oakland, California set out to make a name for himself after choosing Weber State over 11 other offers from various schools. This list included the likes of Boise State, Bradley, Fresno State, Montana, Oral Roberts, Saint Mary’s, San Diego, San Diego State, Santa Clara, SMU and Wichita State.
While Wichita State, San Diego State and Saint Mary’s were arguably the biggest programs to offer Lillard, he did have interest from Gonzaga, Utah and Washington State, per Rivals. According to the site, though, there was no offer from those schools.
As Mike Schmitz of Valley of Nations detailed, Lillard’s coach at Weber State, Randy Rahe called Lillard “different” in recruiting.
“He was different in the recruiting, Damian didn’t care about levels. It’s really important for him to be around people he trusted. He’s a very loyal kid,” Rahe said. “I think he made the right choice because as s a freshman he was heavily counted on to be a good player so he just kept getting better. If he had gone to a Pac-12 school and had to sit a couple years he may not have progressed like he did playing for us.”
Damian Lillard’s Stats & Awards at Weber State
Although Lillard didn’t get recruited by some of the top programs in college basketball, he impressed early in his career. As a freshman during the 2008-09 season, he posted marks of 11.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. While the numbers are decent, he proceeded to improve moving forward, although his 2010-11 season was shortened due to a foot injury.
Lillard wrapped up his college career by scoring 24.5 points per game with 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals. Even more impressive was the fact that he shot 46.7 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from beyond the arc. Lillard was named the Big Sky Player of the Year twice (2010, 2012) and a Third-Team All-American by the Associated Press in 2012.
One of the biggest achievements given to Lillard came from the school, as they retired his No. 1 jersey in 2017, as Sean Meagher of The Oregonian revealed. He became the third player in Weber State men’s basketball history to receive this honor, joining Willie Sojourner and Bruce Collins.
READ NEXT: Damian Lillard’s Tattoos: What Do They Mean?