Grayson Wilson’s Place among Arkansas’ All-Time Greatest Prep Tri-Sport Athletes

Don Kessinger, Clyde Scott, Grayson Wilson, Arkansas football

Grayson Wilson’s game-winning layup against Dumas to send Central Arkansas Christian’s basketball team to the Class 3A state finals was just another feather in the cap for the 2025 Arkansas football commit. 

The 50-48 victory clinched the first-ever state championship appearance for the Mustangs and sent the CAC bench into a frenzy, with teammates embracing Wilson as the final second ticked off the clock.

As a post player, Wilson may not have the ideal size in the paint at 6-foot-3, but he makes up for it with strength and versatility. The 17-year-old has averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks this season after averaging a double-double – 13 points and 10 rebounds – as a sophomore, when he connected on 65% of his shots from the field.

Those numbers don’t tell the full story, though, says head coach Matt Hall. 

“You cannot measure what Grayson does for us in stats,” Hall said. “His stats are great, but what we are able to do defensively as far as pressuring and us being able to get out of position is because of him. He rebounds anything remotely close to him, he is a really good shot blocker and one of the best I have coached with just a knack for timing jumps and knowing when rebounds are coming. Once he has the ball, nobody takes it from him because he is so strong.”

Grayson Wilson as a Tri-Sport Athlete

While the hardwood may not be Wilson’s future, the feat just added another chapter to the North Little Rock native’s potential legacy as one of the state’s all-time best tri-sport athletes at the high school level. 

That same strength with which Wilson vacuums in loose balls also helps him escape tackles on the football field, while on the baseball field he overwhelms opponents with a high-80s fastball that has helped him strike out over 120 batters in the past two seasons.

With all he has already done, it would not be an over exaggeration to claim Wilson could end up in an elite group with Forrest City’s Don Kessinger, Pine Bluff’s Don Hutson and Smackover’s Clyde Scott, to name a few*.

Football might be Wilson’s meal ticket and basketball will provide Wilson with his best opportunity at a state championship thus far, but there was also a chance at a future on the baseball diamond.

During the summer prior to his freshman year, Wilson impressed at an Arkansas baseball camp. Dave Van Horn’s staff showed immediate interest.

“I threw around 85 off of the mound and they were excited about that, but I needed a little bit more for them to offer me,” Wilson said. “Being in ninth grade, I didn’t really want to choose because I loved these other sports so much.”

Wilson had not even started his high school career and he had a grown-man decision to make. 

“My coach on the travel team I played with had some input with the Razorbacks and told me they needed to know whether or not I wanted to play baseball,” Wilson said. “I was not sure whether or not I was ready to say ‘yes’ or commit to either sport.”

As a four-star prospect ranked as the fifth-best quarterback in his class by Rivals, Wilson is already on track to finish his prep career among some of Arkansas’ all-time tri-sport athletes.

Thus far, Wilson has helped CAC’s baseball team to a quarterfinal finish in 2022, then the semifinals in 2023 and the football team to a quarterfinal run last fall. The 3A basketball championship on Thursday against Bergman at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs will be his first chance to win a state title. 

An Elite Class of Tri-Sport Athletes from Arkansas

Don Hutson essentially wrote the blueprint for modern day wide receivers, but the Pine Bluff High legend did not initially intend to play football when he got to Tuscaloosa in 1931. It wasn’t basketball, either, despite Hutson hinting at it being his favorite sport

Hutson expected to play centerfield for the Tide, as well as run in the 100- and 220-yards distances, before his speed caught the attention of the football coaches, who convinced him to walk-on. Alongside fellow Arkansan Paul “Bear” Bryant, Hutson helped the Crimson Tide win a national championship in 1934 before compiling a Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers.

Like Hutson, Clyde Scott – nicknamed “Smackover,” in reference to his oil-rich hometown – had full intention of playing both baseball and football when he arrived in Fayetteville prior to the 1946 season after spending a few years in the Navy.

However, his head football coach, John Barnhill, did not approve of playing both and suggested Scott should instead run track. Barnhill’s idea turned to gold as Scott went on to win a silver medal in the 1948 Summer Olympics, plus made the most of his short NFL career, winning an NFL Championship with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1949 and Detroit Lions in 1952. That helped him be tabbed Athlete of the Century by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2000.

What could have been for Hutson and Scott on the baseball diamond, we will never know, but taking that road proved brilliant for Kessinger. 

In the 1950s, the Forrest City alumnus was an all-state quarterback, as well as a three-time all-state selection in basketball, for the Mustangs before enrolling at Ole Miss following graduation. There is now debate about whether or not he’s one of the Rebels’ greatest athletes ever, as he went on to become one of the best shortstops in baseball history, earning two Gold Gloves and making six All-Star Games.

Equally Unstoppable on the Hardwood

While playing in the state semifinals for just the third time in school history, and first since 2007, CAC found itself down 11-0 against Dumas on Saturday night before heading into halftime tied at 28 with the Bobcats.

Tied at 48 with the clock running out, senior sharpshooter Sam Maddox lofted a floater from the free-throw line. It was no good, but Maddox pulled down his own rebound and softly flipped it to Wilson to his right under the basket and Wilson laid it in with three seconds remaining for the game winner. Wilson finished the game with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Following a run to the 3A state quarterfinals last season, the Mustangs will square off against Bergman in Thursday’s 3A state championship game at 1:45 p.m. CT. CAC is currently 26-5, and completed a 14-0 run through 3A-5 play. 

For the majority of the year, Wilson has lived up to the reputation of doing the dirty work down low, but he has also had nights where he overloaded the stat sheet. That was never more clear than in a road game toward the end of the 2022-23 regular season. 

Playing at Lamar in the next-to-last regular-season game, Hall came down with the flu and was a shell of himself during the game. Wilson played out of his mind, connecting on 12 of 13 shots for 24 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. The Mustangs routed the Warriors 81-48.

“I had 102 fever, so I thought there was no way I was coming to the game,” Hall said. “About an hour and a half before tip-off, I decided I would go. I was sick as a dog and Grayson went nuts. 

“When the game was over, I looked at my assistant and told him that I am pretty sure Grayson had this one, I could have just stayed at home.”

Grayson Wilson Unblemished on the Mound

Elite accuracy may be Grayson Wilson’s m.o. across sports. He shot nearly 100% from the field in a crucial conference basketball game last season, and with a baseball in his right hand on the mound, he has not lost at the varsity level. His pitches include a fastball (88-90 mph), cutter (84-86 mph) and slider (76-79 mph). 

As a freshman and sophomore, Wilson has a combined 14-0 record with 121 strikeouts to only 11 walks and compiled a 1.18 ERA in 95 innings. He finished last season 6-0 with a save while striking out 50 batters in 44 innings with a 1.27 ERA. On top of all that, Wilson batted over .300 at the plate as the Mustangs went on to the 3A semifinals, where they fell 7-0 to Rivercrest. 

Athletics director Hayden Cruce, a 2004 graduate of CAC who was also a multi-sport athlete, will work with Wilson this spring as the interim head coach.

“Pitching in baseball is competitive,” Cruce said. “You have to have the right mindset, you have to be mentally tough and handle adversity. Grayson does that so well and it just makes him a game changer. He elevates all of our programs and everyone around him, no matter what the sport is.”

Wilson’s performance in the first round of the 3A state tournament last season was a prime example of that. Facing Melbourne and 2025 Razorback baseball commit Grant Wren, Wilson threw one of his five complete games on the season as the Mustangs won 5-1. He struck out 10 Bearkatz while walking only one. 

“I knew it was going to be a dog fight and we probably would not hit as well as we usually do because he was throwing around 93 (mph) and I am throwing maybe 87-88,” Wilson said. “I knew if I kept them off-balance and they did not know what was going to happen, then we would put up one or two runs. 

“I think they were up 1-0 and then we got to them. They pulled Grant and we got to around 3-1, but it was really about just staying in it knowing it was going to be a long game.”

For Cruce, and others in attendance, it was just another work of art painted by Wilson for all to witness. 

“They dueled it out and went toe-to-toe,” Cruce said. “Grayson kept us in the game, gave us a chance to win and we ended up winning it.”

Nearly a year later, Wilson flashed some of that same determination to help keep CAC’s season alive in basketball.

Grayson Wilson’s career is just getting started and more personal achievements should come, but all that can wait for now. As a team, the Mustangs have business to handle in Hot Springs on Thursday. 

*Basil Shabazz is a no-brainer part of any multi-sport Arkansans Mount Rushmore, but he was in a class by himself as a quad-sport star in high school. 


This was the second of a two-part feature on Grayson Wilson. Read the first here:


More coverage of Arkansas high school sports from BoAS… 

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