Trey Woolsey’s father listens to music with his headphones on as he watches his son play for the Oregon Hawks on the hardcourt.
He does it in an attempt to stay calm and quiet. But he was still heard directing his son to take a charge in a Feb. 4 game against Mendota. It had been three games since Trey had taken one.
“We butt heads all the time,” Michael Woolsey said. “He knows when I’m serious and when I’m trying to help him. Everything I tell him, I’m trying to help him.”
Michael was in the stands last week when Trey, an Oregon senior, broke the school’s all-time scoring record of 1,598 points, set by Bob Barnett 41 years ago.
The Woolseys have bonded over basketball as long as they can remember. Michael played in college and for a semi-pro team. He even squared off once against former NBA All-Star Larry Johnson in a junior college game in Texas. He’s passed on all he learned to his son.
“He’s a lot better than I ever was,” Michael Woolsey said. “I wasn’t the leading scorer for Oregon, Illinois.”
Michael can often be found at 5 a.m. on the court at Nash Rec Center in Oregon. Trey can be found with him or in the gym at the school at the same time, a work ethic he inherited from Michael and his mother, Missy.
Usually, Trey blocks out whatever is going on in the crowd at games. But sometimes, if Oregon (14-11) is up a lot on the scoreboard, he’ll glance at the stands and see his dad cheering, sometimes more for other players than he does for him.
“He’s definitely harder on me,” Trey said. “But I don’t mind it. Doing that, it just shows how much he cares for me, and his passion.”
Trey has played on the varsity team since he was a freshman. He’s added weapons to his game as the years have gone by.
Woolsey’s jump shot nearly starts at the waist. It’s a fluid windup. He used to shoot with two hands before fixing his shot before his freshman year. You can still see a hint of the two-hand style in his free-throw stroke, but he makes them.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound point forward starts to look to pass at three-quarter court. His high-octane style helps Oregon get to the basket fast, and sometimes score in bunches.
Often playing with smaller players, Woolsey never has trouble getting to the rim, but finishing is an issue on occasion.
Against Mendota, he made a 3-pointer from the volleyball line. He turned the ball over on the next possession. Later, he hit another 3 to give Oregon 28 points in the first quarter. Later on, he picked off a pass and put down a two-handed dunk to give the Hawks a 28-point lead as they cruised to the win.
It’s a style that’s uncommon, and sometimes unwelcome in the region. A hard-nosed, team-first style fits northern Illinois better. But it doesn’t fit Woolsey.
“I can see why people don’t like the way I play,” Woolsey said. “It doesn’t affect me, though. Especially when you have good people around you, you can’t really worry about what the outside haters say.”
“He definitely likes playing that style when people don’t want to see it,” Oregon coach Quinn Virgil said. “Sometimes we try to pull the reins on him a bit. When he gets out and going, he is tough to stop.”
Virgil’s coaching style has rubbed off on Woolsey. He gives his players the green light. His teams play up-tempo and attack. Some bad shots come as a result, but when they’re right, so is the scoreboard.
Virgil says he first noticed Woolsey in fifth or sixth grade. He’s only had one other player spend as much time on varsity as Trey has. So how has Woolsey changed most? Maturity.
“He really hasn’t had any meltdowns on the floor, where sophomore year sometimes things would get under his skin and if there was a crowd, player or bad call, he’d let that affect the game,” Virgil said. “He hasn’t done that this year.”
“Playing with emotion is very dangerous,” Woolsey said. “It can either lead you to success or your downfall. When people are talking, it makes me play better now, I feel like. Back in the day, it made me play better, but sometimes I get way too out of control. Now I feel like I’m at a happy medium.”
Woolsey doesn’t have plans for college yet. He’s talked with schools, but is currently undecided. Virgil thinks his best days are ahead of him, especially when he can focus on one position in college. His father believes his ceiling is lower Division I.
Exposure to colleges at a smaller school like Oregon has been a problem. Playing AAU with stars from last year’s Rockford East team that finished fourth at the state tournament, like Sincere Parker and Sha’Den Clanton, has helped.
Woolsey and his family considered moving to Rockford to help with exposure, but he couldn’t leave his teammates. Woolsey believes this year’s Oregon team is the one he’s been closest with in his entire career.
It’s his hope to bring Oregon a regional title before all is said and done. His legacy, and record, will make him missed once he’s gone.
“We’ll be missing about 27 points per game,” Virgil said.