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Forever a Wildcat

2011 vs USU (BryanButterfield).jpg
Damian Lillard is hugged by a teammate in a game against Utah State University in Fall 2011. (Signpost Archives)

It’s been over four years since Damian Lillard was a basketball player at Weber State. In April of 2014, Lillard entered the draft after forgoing his senior season and was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.

In his years in Portland, Lillard has become a two-time all-star, the NBA’s rookie of the year and was named to both the NBA’s second and third teams.

While Lillard is always working and making a name for himself at the professional level, he is a superstar at Weber State University.

Lillard was on deck at the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League games to watch his fellow Wildcats Davion Berry and Joel Bolomboy.

Lillard said he is grateful “to be able to be such a high draft pick and be successful in the NBA and kind of make people take notice of Weber State; to open that door up for Joel and Davion and guys like that.”

He went on to say that he is happy he “can play that part, and hopefully they continue to do the same things for guys coming behind them.”

For Lillard, he does not only remember his time at Weber State, but he regularly remembers his time spent in Ogden.

“I give a lot of credit to Weber State, our coaching staff, a lot of the staff on campus, people around Ogden,” Lillard said. “I was a kid when I came there, and I left as a man.”

When Lillard was a student-athlete at Weber State, he felt very strongly that being a student was just as important as being an athlete.

All over campus, Lillard found people who continue to impact him to this day.

“A lot of that was on behalf of the people I came across there holding me accountable and teaching me things that I didn’t know before and pushing me to be my best self,” Lillard said. “Not just on the floor but in the classroom; not allowing me to be late to class, miss classes and things like that.”

Lillard set the standard for athletes at Weber State.

Former Weber State assistant coach Phil Beckner would tell stories about Lillard’s competitive drive and the lengths he would go to to be great.

“It just trickled down to Joel, and same thing for Davion,” Lillard said. “Everything they held me to became a standard and that allowed guys like Joel and Davion to go on and do things like they’re doing.”

No matter how long it has been since his Wildcat days, Lillard knows the reflection his success has on the school and all of the athletes at Weber State.

“I enjoy being people’s inspiration,” said Lillard. “In Utah, it’s a family type of environment, with the sports and being a commuter school that’s the vibe. Everybody supports everybody, so that’s the least I can do is give them something to push for.”

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