Will Jamison first met Culpeper basketball coach James Thompson when he was in the seventh grade. At that time, he didn’t possess the coordination to jump rope or do anything with his left hand.
Now, after countless hours in the gym with Thompson and the Culpeper coaching staff over the last few years, the 6-foot-5 forward will be playing college basketball at Randolph College in Lynchburg this winter.
“I’ve made a lot of improvements since my freshman year,” Jamison said. “Coach Thompson and the staff have taught me how to do a lot of things I couldn’t do just a few years ago.”
After a solid freshman season on Culpeper’s junior varsity team in 2015-16, Jamison made the varsity squad his sophomore year. Although he was happy to make it, he admits it was a tough transition for him at first.
“My sophomore year was difficult because I was on varsity and all my friends were on JV, so chemistry was hard to build,” he said. “Also, I still didn’t have good footwork and we had a very young team at that time, so it was a struggle.”
By the time his junior year rolled around, Jamison knew things would be a bit easier. He also knew he still had a lot of work to do to become the player he wanted to be.
“By my junior year I already had a full season of varsity basketball under my belt,” Jamison said. “A lot of the guys who were on the team my sophomore year were back, so we had developed some good chemistry.”
Nonetheless, Jamison said that while the year of varsity experience and the hard work he put in during the offseason were helpful at the time, he was still lacking in several areas.
“Even though I had started to excel more in multiple areas, I was still primarily known only for my rebounding ability,” he said.
The summer before his senior season, Jamison spent a lot of time in the gym working on his game—particularly his footwork around the basket and his shot. Thompson and Blue Devils assistant coach Mike Dayton worked with Jamison to help him hone those facets of his game so that he could become more than just a rebounder.
“That summer, I worked out pretty much every day,” Jamison said. “The coaches helped me work on my body and my shot, because I wanted to be more than just a rebounder. Now people know that I can rebound and score, which is why I averaged a double-double this year.”
Jamison averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior, helping Culpeper to an 18-8 record and its first state tournament berth since 2011. He was a first-team All-Northwestern District selection for his efforts.
Although Thompson played a big part in Jamison’s success, he admitted a lot of it was because of all the extra work Dayton put in with Jamison.
“Will has been a pleasure to coach,” Thompson said. “He’s a hard worker on the court and in the classroom. Mike [Dayton] deserves more credit for his development then I do, though. He was Will’s position coach and he spent a lot of extra time before, during and after practice drilling him. He was the one pushing Will to be better each season. It obviously paid off, because Will developed into an all-district performer and now a college player.”
One of Jamison’s favorite basketball moments at Culpeper was this year’s Region 3B quarterfinal game against Thomas Jefferson-Richmond, which the Blue Devils won 102-99 after four overtime periods.
“It was crazy,” he remarked. “Not a lot of people can say they’ve played in or have been in attendance for a four-overtime game.”
Jamison also enjoyed being able to play for Thompson, or “J.T.” for short.
“Playing for J.T. was a great experience,” he said of the businesslike Thompson. “When I first met him in seventh grade, I was scared to even talk to him because of the way he carries himself. It was just intimidating. But he really cares about his players. He tells it like it is and doesn’t care if you don’t like what he says. He is always willing to open the gym for us to put extra work in, and it meant a lot to me having him as a coach.”
Thompson believes Jamison will continue to progress as a basketball player when he arrives at Randolph this fall.
“I think once he adapts to the speed of the college game he’ll be ok,” Thompson said. “Until then, he’s going to have to sharpen his fundamental skills because the game is changing and evolving into position-less basketball. All five players on the court are going to have to be able to do everything. He’ll be able to get more reps in college than high school though, so I look for him to progress like he did with us. He may even be able to help them sooner rather than later with his rebounding and defensive ability.”
Jamison said the deciding factors in his commitment to Randolph were the academics and the coaching staff. He plans to major in sports management while there, and he likes the fact that the WildCats’ basketball program is still growing after just 11 years in existence.
Randolph, which plays in the Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference, finished 12-15 in 2019.
“They’ve only had men’s basketball for 11 years and I wanted to go somewhere where I could make an impact sooner rather than later,” Jamison said. “My goal when I get there is to win an ODAC championship.”