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Leland "Pookey" Wigington- Athlete
Leland Wigington, affectionately known as "Pookey," came to Ventura College from Los Angeles in 1986. As a member of one of Phil Mathews' first Ventura College teams, Pookey assumed leadership of the team as the starting point guard and carefully and meticulously guided it into Pirate basketball history. Not since 1952 had Ventura College men's basketball captured a California state championship. Little did anyone know that the 1986-87 season would change the landscape of Pirate men's basketball forever.
When Pookey arrived, he soon established himself as perhaps the shortest, but quickest point guard to ever wear the Pirate uniform. His knowledge of the game was truly exceptional and his physical ability to move like a rabbit became legendary. Opponents often underestimated his skills and abilities, but not for long. Pookey was an extraordinary athlete who was clearly in charge once he took the floor. During his one and only season at Ventura College, Pookey Wigington led the Pirate faithful to the 1986-87 California Men's Basketball State Championship.
Leading a team that ended the season with a 31-4 record, Pookey earned numerous awards and recognitions. He was voted the team's Most Valuable Player and Team Captain. He earned 1st Team All-WSC honors as the Pirates captured the WSC crown. His outstanding play in the state playoffs resulted in Pookey being named the MVP of the state championship tournament and All-State and J.C. All-American acclaim.
Beyond all the awards Pookey garnered during the 1986-87 campaign, there was one single moment for which Pookey will always be remembered. That moment took place with less than 15 seconds to go in the state championship game against Saddleback College. Down by a single point and with Saddleback having possession of the ball at midcourt, Pookey, with his unbelievable quickness and anticipation, stole the ball and went in for an uncontested lay-up to put the Pirates up by one and moments later, California State Champions. "The Steal", as it was dubbed by many sportswriters all across California, was testimony to Pookey Wigington's greatness. It is often noted in athletics that when it's crunch time, great players make great plays and Pookey's "steal" at game's end to capture the state championship was truly representative of greatness.
After completing his studies at Ventura College, Pookey transferred to Seton Hall University where he played from 1987-1990. Pookey led his team to the NCAA Final Four, where the Seton Hall Pirates were defeated by the University of Michigan's Fab 5. Pookey was also named the Most Valuable Player of two tournaments, the Great Alaskan Shootout and the National Invitation Tournament during his university career.
Currently living in Los Angeles, California, Pookey works as a real estate investor, entrepreneur and entertainment producer.