Final Spoonful: Berkmar's youngest Witherspoon brother may be the best

LILBURN - There they were, in a hot gym in Augusta watching their baby brother make crisp passes to teammates, knock down open jumpers and fly to the hoop for easy layups.

As they watched Wesley have another strong showing for his Georgia Stars AAU team at the Peach Jam in mid-July - he scored 37 in one game - they sat there beaming, knowing full well the important role they have played in the development of the latest and arguably best Witherspoon brother of them all.

Will was the first to star at Berkmar, helping lead the Patriots to the 2000 Class AAAA state title as the starting point guard. He is 25 now. And he remembers what baby brother was like back then.

"We watched the tape (of the 2000 state championship game) a couple of months ago," Will said, "and we're shaking hands at the end of the game and you see this little kid at the end of the line with big glasses and big ears. And it was him.

"And he used to be the halftime show. He would run all around the court and run full blast into the mats. And dribble around. So it's funny to see how he's stretched out."

Wynton himself got a championship ring the next year, but as a freshman, he didn't get nearly the minutes big brother had the year before. His time came though, and he started the next three seasons for the Patriots and made quite a name for himself - earning All-County honors his senior season and eventually signing with Virginia Tech.

He is preparing for his junior season at George Washington University, where he transferred after his sophomore year with the Hokies. He turned 21 on Sunday. And he remembers baby brother, too.

"He went on all but one of my official visits with me," Wynton said. "I took him up to Virginia Tech, UAB. I took him up to Georgia with me. When he was with me, I don't want to say he was a groupie or anything, but he was just going around enjoying the sights. He didn't have to sit in on all those boring meetings."

He was just the little brother.

But now, Wesley isn't so little. In fact, at 6-foot-8, he is two inches taller than Wynton and six inches taller than Will.

And he has turned himself into one of the top players in Georgia. Despite his height, Wesley handles the ball like a guard and has a smoothness to his game that makes it appear as if he's gliding down the court. He has offers from some of the biggest college basketball programs in the country - Illinois, Syracuse, Texas, Florida and LSU to name a few - and he has been a key ingredient to the Stars' summer success.

But he also remembers. Despite his national recognition and impressive college choices, it wasn't so long ago that he was that "goofy kid" annoying his older brothers.

"They used to call me 'The Ambassador' when I was a kid," Wesley said. "Because I met so many people when we were at the gym."

Now here he is - a talented basketball player who is getting more college attention than either one of his older brothers received.

And they couldn't be prouder.

"He's really come into his own and really taken off," Will said. "He's just getting better and better."

"I'm his biggest fan right now," said Wynton. "I went down to the Peach Jam and watched him play down in Augusta and I really loved it. It did my heart good to watch him down there. I had my Georgia Stars shirt on and I'm in college so I can talk to coaches, and I was talking to them about Wesley. It just made me really happy."

It wasn't always like this though.

The warm and fuzzy Witherspoon brothers of today were a little bit different a few years ago. They are brothers after all, and it wasn't uncommon for a physical pickup game to result in a few shoves or punches being thrown.

That's what happens in a family that thrives on competition.

"It's the big brother-little brother thing," Will said. "(Wynton) thought he was good and I used to let him know outside when we played one-on-one. ... I did it to Wynton and then he did it to Wes. That's just how it is."

Said Wynton: "Well, Will won't play me now. After I started beating him when I was in the eighth grade, he stopped playing me. He hasn't played me since the last time I beat him in the eighth grade ... and we would get in a lot of fights in those basketball games."

Wesley remembers the last real altercation he got into with Wynton, his elder by four years.

It's not exactly a fond memory.

"Things got to things and we started throwing, and he beat me pretty bad," Wesley said with a laugh. "That wasn't a lot of fun."

But all those quarrels, all those arguments and shoving matches out on the basketball court paid off for the Witherspoons.

Will was an enrollee at the Air Force prep school in Colorado Springs, Colo., before transferring and finishing his basketball career at Life University.

Wynton played serious minutes in the ACC at Virginia Tech and is now a projected starter at George Washington this upcoming season.

Wesley, of course, now has his pick of powerhouse programs to choose from, though his brothers would like to see him get a little bit tougher before he heads off to college.

"He's acts like a baby sometimes," Wynton said with a smile. "He pouts and cries a lot, but he's starting to come into his own."

Said Will: "Wynton is just a killer. I guess it's that middle-child thing; he has that chip on his shoulder. And he's a killer. And if (Wesley) gets that mental thing that Wynton has, then the sky is the limit for him."

For his part, Wesley doesn't really dispute these statements.

"I guess you could say (I'm the baby of the family)," he said with a smile. "They've been bullying me for a long time."

Despite that bullying - after all, isn't that the job of an older brother? - Wesley credits both Will and Wynton for being key reasons why he is now ranked as the No. 59 player in the country by Rivals.com.

"Without them, I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the basketball player I am today," he said. "And we're real close now. We hang out a lot."

It's astonishing to think that earlier this decade Wesley was basically the halftime entertainment at Berkmar games. Now he's the show on the court for his basketball skills instead.

And for a family that is known for 'W's - the three brothers also have a sister named Whitley - Wesley is hoping to add a few more to the Patriots' record this upcoming season.

Both of his brothers have state title rings from the early 2000s, but Berkmar has been struggling of late and hasn't had a winning record in four years.

Wesley has been asked more than once why he wouldn't transfer to another high school with a better shot at competing for a title, but his response is simple.

"This place means everything," Wesley said. "People ask me if I want to transfer. I can't do it. This is where I've been my whole life."

After all, he has a legacy to maintain.

One that will continue next fall when the third - and perhaps best - Witherspoon brother goes off to play college basketball.

"I love these guys to death," Will said. "I hate that Wynton had to go through that thing with Virginia Tech and he had to transfer, but I think it's worked out for Wesley because he's gotten to see me go through the recruiting process and then Wynton, so he really knows what to expect.

"Ultimately it will be Wesley's decision, but we'll all talk and discuss it as a family."

After all, that's what brothers do.