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Damian Lillard has taken the NBA by storm as one of the biggest deep threats the league has ever seen.
The Trail Blazers guard isn’t scared to drill 30 to 40 footers when the game is on the line, and he often does it with ease. Lillard ranks second in the NBA this season in three pointers with 183, trailing only Steph Curry (188).
His ridiculous range from the logo has players around the league trying to step up their game. And simply put, when it’s Lillard Time, there’s no need to check your watch.
But as his Oakland High School coach Orlando Watkins recently told NBA on TNT, Lillard launching long-distance shots at the end of games is nothing new. The Oakland native was throwing up monster shots from the logo back then too.
“Yeah, we had that in high school,” Watkins told Dennis Scott. “We’re playing McClymonds and we went on to go undefeated that year and win state, and Dame pulled up from right inside half court to tie the game and he had missed that same shot about a minute sooner. I looked at him like ‘this game is tight; we can’t be doing that. He looked back at me like ‘I got this, I got this.’ I’m not going to tell him don’t take that shot...
He was our best scorer, and he was carrying us at the time, so it was like ‘hey, if it goes in, enjoy that time, so go ahead and shoot.'
- Orlando Watkins on Damian Lillard
For the Wildcats, Lillard averaged 22.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists during his senior season. Coming out of high school, however, he was only a 3-star recruit.
As Watkins explained, Lillard’s size and role as a facilitator was a hang up for bigger colleges. While few schools showed Lillard interest, the right one came calling.
“To tell you the truth, it was just bad luck, bad timing,” Watkins explained. “I think that Dame played for an AAU with a bunch of other guards, and he was their main scorer. He wasn’t facilitating, getting other people involved as much as if he was the lead guard. Trust me, if the ball was in Dame’s hands then everybody knew. When we needed a basket, ‘hey Dame, let’s go to work.’ But I think bigger colleges were looking at him like he’s too small, and he’s not a facilitator. So, they missed out.
“I think Weber did a great job recruiting him and making him feel at home.”
Lillard thrived at Weber under coach Randy Rahe. The future Trail Blazers star was named Big Sky Player of the Year twice and capped off his senior season with 24.5 points per game for Weber State.
He was selected No. 6 overall by the Trail Blazers in the 2012 NBA Draft, and the rest they say is history. Lillard is now one of the Blazers greatest legends and continues to extend his range year in and year out in large part to his Logo Lillard persona that is rooted in Oakland.