“Coming Home” is a song featuring recording artists P. Diddy and Skylar Grey. The song tells the story of someone who ventured off to a different place for some time, but is excited for their homecoming. For former Penn State Behrend basketball player and now University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Panther Deondre Terwilliger, it is a song the now college sophomore can relate to.
After spending his first college season as a member of the Behrend Lions, Terwilliger is excited to return home and continue his career with the Panthers.
“I really love how close the community is in Bradford.’ Terwilliger said. “I learned a great deal about basketball and what it will take to succeed in the sport from many different people in the Bradford community.”
The former Bradford Owl was looking for a change of scenery upon graduating from college in 2018, and Penn State Behrend was on his radar after attending basketball camps at the school. Pitt-Bradford was heavily interested in Terwilliger out of high school, but he decided Erie was the best place for him.
Terwilliger began playing basketball in 5th grade, and admitted it was not a sport he was great at when he first began playing in the Bradford youth leagues.
“I really did not start getting any good until eighth grade,” he said. “Jim Carroll was my coach and he was a pretty easy going coach who let me play and improve.”
Early in his high school career, Terwilliger did not receive a lot of playing time on varsity, but in the middle of his sophomore year, that suddenly changed. He became one of the go-to offensive players for the Owls and was chosen as a District 9 All-Star for the first time.
However, his junior season was full of misfortune. Terwilliger missed nearly the entirety of that season due to a meniscus injury in his knee. Terwilliger took close to a year to fully recover, but thankfully the injury allowed him to get back on the court for his senior season.
Terwilliger was able to find his way back onto the D9 All-Star team and also helped lead the Owls to the D9 Class AAAA title game, where they suffered a six-point loss to Clearfield.
“The D9 title game was my favorite memory from basketball despite the outcome,” he said. “It was a great environment and game, and it was a lot of fun out there competing.”
Terwilliger’s best high school game came against St Marys where he exploded for 37 points and helped the Owls defeat the visiting Flying Dutchmen 74-63 in January 2018.
While the competition in the D9 League was terrific during his high school career, Terwilliger admitted travel basketball helped him improve as a competitor and prepared him even more for the college game.
“District 9 has some pretty good basketball, but it is impossible to see what is fully out there unless you play travel basketball or live in a bigger area,” Terwilliger said.
“Going around the state and outside of the area to play opened my eyes to the competition out there and helped me elevate my game. Playing AAU ball was a fun and humbling experience.” While playing travel basketball outside of the area was key in Terwilliger’s improvement, the coaches and people from home were the ones he credits most for molding him into the player and person he is today.
“My father Andrew Terwilliger was the first person to start teaching me about basketball. He continued to teach me the small things throughout my life that all added up into the big picture. My grandparents Linda and Wayne Mead are also my two biggest fans and rarely miss any of my games.
“My grandfather has driven five-six hours to watch me play in some of my AAU and college games. I also have to mention the love my mother Carrie Terwilliger has always given me. She too comes to almost all my games. These four have been extremely supportive and interested in my success in basketball.”
Terwilliger’s former coaches Brian Hobbs, Jeremy Wells, and Jim Carroll all played a positive role in his improvement in basketball, and he still speaks with each one on a regular basis.
But it’s Hobbs, who served as Terwilliger’s varsity head coach at Bradford High, that he remains closest with today.
“Coach Hobbs made me a much better player, but it is more important to note that he truly has made me a better person,” Terwilliger said. “He has done so much for me over the years and I really appreciate how supportive he has been of me.”
Terwilliger will be studying business management with a focus in marketing at Pitt-Bradford. With this degree, he hopes to work in the sports industry in some magnitude upon graduation in 2022. As for his excitement on being a Panther, Terwilliger said, “I will be working as hard as I can for the next three years. Nothing is guaranteed, but I hope that we can turn this program around have some better success in the future.”