In the last few years Shaun Willett (193-PF-96, college: Queens, NC) was giving scoring a new name and producing double doubles as easily as current Denver Nugget Nikola Jokic is making people believe that he is the 2021 MVP due to his leadership despite not having the most talented guys around him in the playoffs. The American from Palm Bay, Florida who shares European duties in Europe as a player with fellow Palm Bay resident Cameron Long showed in the NCAA 2 with Queens University (NCAA2) that he could produce double doubles at ease averaging 19.9ppg, 11.6rprg. He proved that that was no fluke and came on to the scene as a rookie in Europe in Luxemburg in 2019 and plastered explosive stats of 29/13 with BBC Arantia Larochette (Luxembourg-Total League) displaying a 43/20 game and a 39/16 explosion while scoring 30 points or more in 8 of 12 games. This season he ventured to Germany and began the season with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen in a tougher and higher league, but was very close to the double double numbers averaging 17/9 stats in 9 games. Often scoring like an Allen Iverson is wonderful to watch and can really boost your market value, but when the team isn’t winning, you won’t remain there long as in Europe winning is the norm. But the American who believes that Golden State Warrior Draymond Green is a great defender and can defend multiple positions, but isn’t the greatest defender of all-time helped lead the Panthers to a respectable 5-3 record early and was on a roll scoring 27 points, 23 points twice and 21 points all in wins. But then he was suddenly gone from one day to the next as his new address was Heidelberg. Sometimes not even the best stats and winning can hold a player somewhere as Willet found out. Especially wiha Panthers head coach Alen Velcic is a guy you don’t want to push to the limit with his nerves. Willet didn’t stick to some rules and that cost him his job in Schwenningen, but sometimes getting that second opportunity in the season can bring happiness and a feeling of contentedness. Willet would sign with future Pro A winner MHP Academics and the Panthers reeled in another explosive scorer with Courtney Stockard who helped lead them to the playoffs and their best season ever. Current wiha Panthers guard Chris Frazier couldn’t have described the situation better how the player roulette effected both teams best. ‘I wouldn’t say the move it was wrong or correct. It was a move that coach thought was right and he brought in Courtney. Both players were our best players, Courtney just led us better. Coach has a crazy way of knowing how players could fit together so at the end of the day it was the right move to make’, warned Chris Frazier. He definitely had to put his ego on the back shelf, but it was definitely worth it. ‘The whole goal of basketball is to win championships and to win one in my first year in pro A is just unreal! I’m blessed beyond measures. The decision to come here was a tough one because I knew what I would be giving up, but the reason that I came was to win a championship and succeeding in that let’s me know I made the right choice’, warned Shaun Willett.
The American who doesn’t agree with basketball legend Dino Radja that Russell Westbrook couldn’t lead a team in Europe to success, but moreover see’s Russ as unstoppable played his last game with the Panthers on December 30th and then rapidly found a new team with ambitious organization MLP Academics Heidelberg. He played his first game on January 20th helping beat Paderborn 85-79 giving a very spirited debut with 14 points and 11 boards and showing his defensive qualities as well with 2 steals and a block. A little less than 4 months later he was at a point in his professional career where he had never been before winning that first chip. He played a two game series where the team that won by the most points had the title. Heidelberg pretty much decided the title in the first game routing another ambitious club Bayer Giants Leverkusen by 30 points sparked by a strong 24-9 second quarter that fueled the victory. ‘The quarter was definitely a big turning point and a huge reason to the big victory in game one for sure. We executed on defense and made good decisions on offense’, remembered Shaun Willett. Even when you win by a massive margin like that, it doesn’t mean that one team wanted it more than the other. ‘I wouldn’t necessarily say we wanted it more, of course both teams wanted it extremely bad, but we just did the key things in key moments to give us a better advantage for the game. And as Frenki would say we also had a little bit of luck’, smiled Shaun Willett. The Heidelberg team could of put on blindfolds for the second game being up by 30 points, but they continued to battle and after 40 minutes experienced a rare 93-93 draw. The club obviously would have liked the win since ending in it in a tie felt weird. ‘It feels like unfinished business. Like you had a work assignment due and you forgot to look on the back side for the last 2 questions. I’ve never had a game end in a tie no’, stated Shaun Willett. Rating the magnitude of the Pro A title is huge since the COVID season was such a difficult one with no fans, injuries and numerous COVID tests that one can easily say that he was part of a very special team. ‘It was so much fun this year. We had so much talent on one team that on any given night anyone could be the top scorer. When you have a team like that it’s always exciting to see who’s night it will be. I would say the character of our guys on this team was the secret to our success. We had such a great mixture as soon as we all got together. Nobody was selfish, nobody wanted to be more than the team. We all sacrificed because we knew we had a chance to do something special, and it worked’, stressed Shaun Willett.
The American who sees Phoenix Suns Chris Paul as a top 10 NBA point guard of all-time not only is thankful for having been meshed together with great players, but also for gaining the trust of manager Matthias Lautenschlager and head coach Frenki Ignjatovic as well as them being able to transport their vision for success to the players. ‘A lot of credit to them both! Frenki being a great coach on and off the court, and Matthias literally doing everything he can to make sure we are good and ready for every game and event we had. They had a vision and they made it into a reality’, warned Shaun Willett. He already had some nice talent in Schwenningen to play with, but in Heidelberg the talent level was a step higher. He played with amazing guys like MLP Academics lifer Shy Ely who led the club. ‘Playing with Shy gliz was like playing with an older brother that just knows the game and works on his craft so detailed and specific. He was the piece that just held us together, like we would never feel like we were out of a game knowing we have Shy on our team. Great father, great teammate, just overall great dude. Loved being able to just take every little thing I could from him’, remembered Shaun Willett. Heidelberg had probably the best trio of guards in the league with Ely, Jordan Gist and Saaed Nelson and Willett had nothing but love for them who knew how to find him every now and then when they weren’t shooting out the lights. ‘JG is special! Flat out Hooper, gets to his spots whenever he wants, and is one of the most clutch dudes I’ve seen in person. Great teammate and great dude. He gave me all of my alley oops so I have to say good things about him lol. But no he was huge for this team really. Sa silky Nelson is a flat out dog! The energy he brings, the way he weaves through defenders and gets to the paint is insane. I tell him all the time he has to work on his hops so those layups turn into dunks! But I have no worries about what will be next for him, the sky may not even be the limit, he might have room to reach another planet if he keeps working. He’s going to be at the highest level in basketball really soon in his career’, warned Shaun Willett. He also knows that the club wouldn’t have had the success without the German bangers Armin Trtovac and Philipp Heyden who became one of the Pro A’s top center duo. ‘They were the pillars of course! Without good big no team no team is complete. The energy that big Philly brought made him the captain that we loved and we needed. He always made sure that we were better than we played and always held guys accountable. Armin hammer came in huge as well with his energy off the bench. He was starting at one point I think and things happened but he didn’t let it affect his production to this team. We have no success without those two for sure’, expressed Shaun Willett.
The Florida native who sees Jayson Tatum currently as a top 10 player and most difficult player he battled in the Pro A was wiha Panthers forward Courtney Stockard came to Heidelberg and played 24 games averaging 9.8ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.3spg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 21.2%, FT: 76.1%. His numbers in Heidelberg compared to Schweningen was like day and night, but he knew that sometimes that making sacrifices can lead to big things at the end. ‘Moving from Schwenningen to Heidelberg, I knew it wasn’t going to be the same with my numbers, but I always had the bigger picture in mind. I was never worried about my performance because I knew at the end of the day my game speaks for itself and I went to win a championship and did that so I’m perfectly fine with the outcome’, commented Shaun Willett. He scored in double figures in 11 games including 24 points in a win over Tuebingen, but he also did a great job adjusting to a lesser role even if it wasn’t easy. ‘Any real hooper knows that it’s tough when you go from being the main option to the 6th, 7th, or maybe even 8th option. But the toughest part to me was trying to feel useful in a sense. Like making sure I’m being productive and helping my team out every chance I got in anyway possible to just be successful and to know that I did what I could to help my team have a better chance to win’, stated Shaun Willett. He believed that he made another step in his game with Schwenningen and Heidelberg even if he couldn’t find that consistency with his jump shot. ‘It’s really all just about reps and confidence. The more confidence that you have in taking the shots that you know you work on all the time. The better your numbers will be’, warned Shaun Willett who also feels that the cult Movie Coming to America should have been left untouched. Not only on the offensive end did he make further strides as a professional, but also on the defensive end where his athleticism continues to bolster how he can defend with success. ‘ Defense has been my strong suit since I would say late high school or in my college days. The fact that I’m getting bigger and stronger and fast just makes it more easier to defend more positions in basketball’, warned Shaun Willett. The American had the right feeling joining the MLP Academics and also knows that in order to experience something like that again, he won’t only be taking 500-1000 shots per day this summer when the temperature crack 90 degrees in Florida. ‘I’m not just keying in on one thing at all I’m focusing on all aspects of my game this summer to be ready for whatever is next’, warned Shaun Willett. He isn’t only a talented player that can rack up big time stats, but within a few months learned to curb his ego and win a professional title. Having these new qualities will help him immensely continue to climb the basketball ladder in Europe.