Vancouver, British Columbia - Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Wilfried made the jump across the country to continue his hoops career at Simon Fraser University in the NCAA. Averaging nearly 14 points and 7 rebounds per game, Wilfried emerged as a leader on Burnaby Mountain from his first day. After more than a year without games as the lone NCAA team who were not able to compete, we sit down with Will in an exclusive Q&A.
VB: In 50 words or less, who is Wilfried Balata?
WB: Wilfried Balata is just a kid from NDG, Montreal who is down to earth, honest, not scared of being himself, and values family. He loves basketball, soccer and enjoys the subtleties life has to offer. He is un-bothered by things he cannot control and always stays true to himself.
VB: What are your first memories of playing ball? When did you know you had a love for the game and would take it as far as you could?
WB: I started playing basketball at my neighborhood Rec center when I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was every Saturday morning. I always looked forward to it, though at times, it was frustrating because I did not get a hang of it at first. So, I started practicing at recess with my friends instead of playing soccer, the first sport I played. I knew I loved basketball when I decided to quit soccer at 16. Soccer wasn’t just the first sport I played; I fell in love with it. I would play soccer in the summer and basketball in the winter. But when a decision had to be made in regard to which sport I would play full time, my love for basketball took over.
In terms of taking it as far as I could, it is only when I went to Prep School at Thetford Academy that I decided and realized that I could and wanted to go as far as possible with basketball.
VB: Being from Montreal, what does it mean to you to have an emergence of Montreal natives like Luguentz Dort and Chris Boucher balling out in the NBA?
WB: It means a lot and it is inspirational to see those guys do well in the NBA. Montreal is a city full of talent when it comes to basketball and they are just the example that anything is possible with dedication and consistent hard work. They are proof that there are no limits.
VB: Whether it be professionals, local, coaches, or players - who are some of your on-court inspirations and why?
WB: When it comes to players, my biggest inspirations are Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The way Russ plays with relentlessness, confidence, toughness, constant effort, and a lack of fear that are unmatched/exemplary. The way he is always himself, focuses on himself and never lets outside noise derail him from his objectives is inspiring to me. As for Paul George, he is like a hunter out on the court as much on defense as on offense, his skillset is also varied; there is nothing he cannot do. The way he deals with injuries, recovery, and rehab is also praiseworthy.
You’ve recently started your own VLOG/YouTube channel, what’s the main purpose you want to get across with your posts?
WB: The primary reason why I started my vlog is to be able to look back at it in 10, 20, 30 years and somewhat see what I was doing. I felt like it was also a good way to show kids approximately what it is like to be a student-athlete at the NCAA level as well as some of the experiences and occurrences that come with. I feel like it can also inspire kids that just like me have goals of pursuing a post-secondary basketball experience at the University level.
VB: In watching, it’s clear you have such a committed work ethic. Where do you feel that comes from? What motivates you?
WB: My work ethic stems from my days in Prep school at Thetford Academy and the people I surround myself with. At Thetford, I was taught what real consistent work really is, and what benefits come from it. My end goals, my family, and my personal growth as a player and a man are my main motivation.
VB: What are some personal goals of yours at the moment, on and off the court?
WB: Off the court getting my degree is probably my biggest goal right now. It is something that at some points in my life seem so unattainable and so far in the horizon. On the court its just always about being dominant, being the best player I can be, and continually adding to my game whether it is physically or skill wise.
QB: What lasting advice would you give 10-year-old Wilfried?
WB:I would advise a 10-year-old Will to always believe in himself, set the bar as high as possible in anything he strives for, and work accordingly. Stay true to himself, do not be scared to take risks, and prove yourself to yourself before anything else.