Shaun Willett is a 193cm forward from Palm Bay, Florida that will be playing his second professional season and first in Germany with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. Last season as a rookie he played with BBC Arantia Larochette (Luxembourg-Total League) playing 12 games: Score-1 (29.8ppg), Reb-4 (13.6rpg), 2.6apg, 1.8spg, FGP-3 (62.8%), 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 71.1%. He began his basketball career with Heritage High School and then played with Indian River State College (JUCO) playing 25 games averaging 13.5ppg, 6.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 65.1%. In 2017-2018 he moved to Queens University (NCAA2) playing 36 games averaging 9.3ppg, 4.9rpg, FGP: 59.3%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 63.0%. In his senior year at Queens University (NCAA2) he played 36 games averaging 19.9ppg, 11.6rpg, 2.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 71.4%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Shaun thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how are you coping in these difficult time with COVID-19?
Hey man how’s it going? I’m currently home and in Palm Bay Florida and I’m coping with this pandemic as well as I can by trying to be as safe as possible
You played your last game on March 7 as COVID-19 then halted play. How did you experience that early time in Luxemburg with the Corona Virus?
When I was in Luxembourg during the virus I was a bit worried because I wasn’t aware about the virus at the time so it was kind of worry sum.
When did you come back to the states? How did you deal with the daily COVID-19. What did you experience on a daily basis and how did you stay in shape best?
Well I got back to the states around March 18th and first it was hard dealing with the daily covid methods trying to stay healthy and stay safe. Once I understood more about the situation it got easier I started working out at home and running around my block
What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans? –
I feel like I played in games where there were barely any people so yeah it would feel kind of weird in a sense wouldn’t that with not having people cheering you on by the same time it wouldn’t affect my game in my opinion.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person? –
I learned to appreciate the opportunities we have on a daily basis. being able to go to the gym when we want, and being able to workout when we want, and being able to just go places we want to go to. Having those things taken away from me really made me learn to appreciate the small things in life in a sense.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including German basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes.? You are one of the early fortunate players that has found a new team. How blessed are you now that you have that worry behind you?
I feel like I’m extremely blessed. I say it every day. The fact that I have my job already signed, and I know where I’m playing is huge. Not just for me, for my family as well because now they don’t have to worry about me or what I’m going to do next it’s just a lot of weight off my shoulders.
Congrats on signing with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. How vital was the positive talks with head coach Alen Velcic to help you make the decision of coming to Germany?
The talk with coach Alen was very vital because I like knowing who I’m going to play for and knowing what to expect and he just kept it real with me from the jump and the eagerness in his voice just told me from the jump that he was a man ready to win at all costs and demanded you to play hard.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?. There have been a few guys like Reggie Hopkins, Tre Mcclean, Antonio Stabler and Daniel Camps that played at Queens (NCAA2) and then played in Germany. Did you get in contact with any guys to get tips and information about the country?
Well I’ve only been to Germany a few times so I don’t really know much about it but I did get to get in contact with Daniel Camps and he told me some good things about it And I also have a brother that is stationed in Frankfurt Germany so I always have someone who knows the area quite well around me.
You had a huge rookie season in Luxemburg and you won’t put up those kind of stats at the Pro A level. Do you feel some pressure and what will be your biggest focus you will have in Germany concerning your game?
It’s actually quite the opposite. I feel less pressure than I did when I was in Luxembourg, because now I wouldn’t have to have such a big role on the team, demanding me to play 40 minutes a night. So now I can play as hard as I need to knowing that I’m going get a break coming soon. My biggest focus is just going to be on and whatever I need to do to make us win rebound score play defense whatever it takes to win.
You have gone from Juco to the Pro A in only 4 years. How big is the chip on your shoulder and has that been a huge motivation that has allowed you to have so much success in the last years?
Oh man I’ve been playing with this chip in my shoulders since I was a junior in high school. And it’s only gotten bigger from then. Coming from a D2 school and being told that you weren’t going to go anywhere or play where you think you want to play at, the chip got pretty big it’s there to remind me of what everyone said and how far I’ve come. So yeah I can’t wait to unleash it this upcoming season.
Let’s talk about your game. You an undersized forward, but can score and rebound very well. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
Well my game is pretty unique, but if I had to choose one I would say it would have to be LeBron James. Just because I feel like I’m very dominant at what I do. I can guard bigs, I can guard guards. bigs are too slow And guards are too small in the paint. So it’s just like a mixture that I feel closely resembles LeBron James.
You made a huge jump in rebounds between your two seasons at Queens (NCAA2) and averaged 11,6rpg as a rookie in Luxemburg. How do you explain your rapid rise in being able to rebound the ball that well.
Rebounding has always been natural for me. So just being at a different level meant for me to play harder, which in result made me grab more rebounds, just because I wanted to win more at a higher level. So I had to demand myself to play at a higher level so that I can perform at a high level.
You have been shooting the ball from outside well in the last 3 seasons. Where do you see your current development concerning your three and what besides consistency do you want to keep being able to tweak with your shot?
I want to develop my shot on to just be as reliable as it can be. I’m drive first play so I don’t rely on my shooting that much. The goal however is certainly be able to be a dependable shooter for my team when my number is called. My work ethic is going to help with that I’m certain of it.
Your points, rebounds and field goal percentage really stood out in your rookie season, but how much pride do you take on the defensive end? Do you see yourself being able to become an impact player on the defensive end at a higher level like Pro A?
I pride myself on defense that always comes first! I played both ends in Luxembourg averaging I think about 2 steals per game. I’ve always been great at defense because of my athletic body. I’m definitely faster than I look. I know I will be a major factor on defense this year.
On what area’s will you be tweaking the most this summer in the basketball lab as you get ready for playing in Germany?
I will look to work on playing on the wing more. Yea I used to play it before I transferred to Queens. I had to play the 4 because we were small. My true position is 3/2. so I’m working on ball handling and shooting constantly.
You began your rookie season with the IOWA Wolves (G-League). What was your introduction to the G-League?
The G league is great organization I got the chance to practice with the team and play in a few scrimmages. It was a great experience, because those guys can really go. It opened my eyes to a new world of basketball that I can see myself at soon. Even high honestly.
What kind of experience was it challenging top NCAA and borderline NBA players? What did you feel was the best thing that your game got out of this time?
Playing against those guys you really see that it’s all about competing and out working one another. It was fun playing against players from all levels but at the end of the day it’s all about who’s playing the hardest. I feel that my game grew just being there and seeing what I have to work on and where to get better at. So it really opened up my IQ for the game.
Did you have any dealings with assistant coach and ex Maccabi tel Aviv legend Devin Smith? Did he give you any tips on playing overseas?
No I didn’t sorry.
You had a monster rookie season with BBC Arantia Larochette (Luxembourg-Total League) playing 12 games: Score-1 (29.8ppg), Reb-4 (13.6rpg), 2.6apg, 1.8spg, FGP-3 (62.8%), 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 71.1%. Did it sometimes feel like you were a man playing with kids?
Haha I mean it was great competition, it had guys there that were high Division 1 athletes and guys that played in the G league and so on. I just played every game as hard as I could
And the results just spoke for themselves.
How did your game profit most from being able to dominate the Luxemburg league? Obviously your self confidence must of rose, but what else was able to help your game develop at the professional ranks?
I grew as a whole player I would say. From having a role like that in my first year was really a blessing. It gave me a taste of having to be the star player and trying to lead my team to victory early in my Pro career. It expanded my game for the fact I had to play many positions.
How much of a pleasure was it being able to play with Adarius Avery who also put up massive stats like you with 23/11? Did you guys click having both come from JUCO and knew what the other has been through?
Oh man playing with Adarius was great. We had similar games so on nights when we were clicking we were pretty tough to beat. We actually mad a great playoff run late in the regular season, but came up short. Great player though and teammate.
How much does your triple double 43/20/10 game in the win over Amicale mean to you? Was that your first triple double in your career and what will you always remember most about this massive game?
That triple double game is definitely on my top five list of games I’ve played. It was my first triple double though and it was pretty tough to get as well. What I would remember most though is that my guy Armond Davis had 45 that night to go with my 43 and he went I think 11-14 from 3. That was a great game to be apart of.
You began your college career at Indian River State College (JUCO) playing 25 games averaging 13.5ppg, 6.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 65.1%. How vital was this season in your basketball development that helped you make the step to the NCAA 2?
That season was vital because it really showed me that I had to work harder than I had to grow more as a player. That season showed me that I could play at a high level because, it was like my first real season. I didn’t play my freshman year of college, so that was my first time having a big role and actually be a part of the team and playing. so it showed me that I I can play at a high level.
You had an amazing 2 year career at Queens (NCAA 2) reaching the SAC final and reached the D-2 Final 4 and Final 8. What was your fondest memory at Queens?
My fondest memory at Queens. I would have to choose my senior year regional championship game. That game was the most packed out game with the fans just going crazy the whole game back and forth yeah that game was one to remember. I remember when I was at the free throw line and the fans started chanting, ‘MVP!! MVP!!’ That was something that I would remember forever.I ended that game with 33 and 13 rebounds. That definitely would have to be my favorite game ever on my list.
Is the 77-75 loss to Lincoln Memorial one that you will remember for a long time? What happened in the last seconds that you won’t forget?
The loss to Lincoln Memorial isn’t really something I think about a lot because, we won when it mattered the most and that was for the Regional Championships. That game was a tough game though none the less, and Lincoln Memorial is a great team!
You had many memorable wins, but where will the 87-86 victory over Catawba stick where you scored 22 points had 10 rebounds and 4 assists?
The 87-86 win against Catawba would probably be number 6 on my top 10 games that I’ve played. It was so rememberable because I had 2 points going into the 2nd half, and we were down by I think 14 also. Then we made our way back and it was a battle the whole game, I scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the second half alone. Then Kenny hit the 3 to put us ahead by one with like 3 secs on the clock! Yea that game was great.
How did head coach Bart Lundy groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Lundy made me have to become an everyday hard worker. When I first got to Queens I didn’t understand how valuable it was to practice hard every single day, and coach Lundy opened my eyes to that from the jump. He instilled hard work in me not just for games, but for everything I do so that I can play at a high level at all times.
What are your fondest memories of Daniel Carr and where do you see the professional journey of him going and did you guys ever challenge each in a one on one or game of horse?
My fondest memories of Daniel Carr are just too much too put on paper. My senior year we really grew close and became like brothers. We went through a tough year losing 7 seniors and other players that were a part of our final four team and it was hard to get guys to buy in to what our culture was. DC though was right by my side every game playing his heart out and we won a lot of games together and had lots of fun memories in games and practice. I see him playing at a high level overseas in these next years to come. He’s a hard worker and a big time player in my books. We actually played one on one a lot, but I am winning in the series for sure haha.
Who was the toughest player you ever battled on the court that landed in the NBA?
The toughest player that l battle on the court and is in the NBA now would have to be Bryce Brown. He’s in the G League but he should definitely be in the NBA. But Bryce was one of the toughest dudes I had to guard weather it’s just pick up or one on one he’s a problem. He can shoot the ball at an elite level and he is quick of the dribble and can finish at the rim. He is all an amazing defender. One to the hardest working dudes I know for sure.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
My 5 best teammates of all time would have to be, Mike Davis Jr, Todd Withers, Ike Agusi, Elijah Farrakhan, and Armond Davis.
Please name your personal NBA Rushmore of 4 past or present players
My top 4 NBA Mount Rushmore would be, in no order. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and James Harden.
Will the Last Dance documentary finally give Michael Jordan the respect he deserves about being the GOAT or can Lebron James still make a claim for that title?
In my opinion Michael Jordan as been the goat and will be the goat for time to come. LeBron is an amazing player and in some people’s eyes he is the goat, but I just been stuck with Jordan as being the goat and the last dance confirmed my opinion for me. He is my goat forever.
What was the last movie that you saw??
The last movie I saw was menace to society. Great movie if you have never watched it I recommend it.
Thanks Shaun for the chat.