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Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week: Will Bland

WILL BLAND
Posted at 6:44 PM, Feb 03, 2023

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WTKR)- If you meet Princess Anne senior guard Will Bland, expect to be impressed in 30 seconds or less.

He's skilled on the basketball court, in the classroom and keeps himself busy with plenty of other extracurricular activities as well. He created an organization this past fall called Student-Athletes Mental and Emotional Health Alliance, is active in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and is a leader with the Dream Club at Princess Anne. Bland is also active in his community, serving through his church and the Urban League of Hampton Roads.

Despite all of those commitments, he always makes time for his first love- basketball.

"I had a basketball in my hand since before I could walk," Bland recalled. "My first organized play was playing under my dad when I was around four or five in a rec league."

The senior guard puts 100 percent into everything he does and now it's paying off. He's overcome injuries and adversity, but hard work and perseverance have him back on the floor playing at a high level and now he's getting his chance to play college basketball.

"In my high school career I've had some injuries and stuff that put me out for 10 months even, so I never was able to visualize it, but when I hit high school I started to have those aspirations," he said of playing in college.

"You can just feel the room when you're talking to the group and you're going to have some guys that are just all the way locked into you, looking in your eyes," added Princess Anne head coach Corey Coffer. "He's staring through my soul, like just taking every single word in."

Earning the chance to play college basketball is an achievement in itself, but education has always been the main priority for Bland.

"I have always been education-minded," he pointed out. "Wherever basketball took me, I knew that (education) would be the first pillar to my next step."

So with basketball in hand, an impressive resume and a GPA over 4.0, Bland will depart for Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the fall, where he will study and play hoops for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious schools in the world. He's not sure what his major will be just yet, but mentioned political science and finance and possibilities.

"It's one of those schools where you can't even really visualize yourself being a student there until you research, take visits," he smiled. "The opportunity finally came. December 17 I was admitted and it's been like that ever since."

Bland isn't afraid to use his smarts outside the classroom as well. His head coach says his intelligence is evident on the basketball court.

"He's going to watch analytics and all of this other stuff," Coffer noted. "Some of these other guys aren't on his level thinking-wise, so sometimes I've got to tell him to dumb it down a little bit and just play high school basketball and now the next level of basketball."

In the game and beyond, the Princess Anne senior aims to continue to fly high and says there are no ceilings in his way.

"I think I can go as far as God has me to go."

If you have a nominee for Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week, send an email to marc.davis@wtkr.com.