Shaun Willett (193-G/F-1996, college: Queens, NC) is a 25 193cm forward from Palm Bay, Florida that is playing his fourth professional season and first with Club Ourense Baloncesto (Spain-LEB Gold). Last season he split time with U.D. Oliveirense (Portugal-LPB) averaging 17.2ppg), Reb-1 (9.7rpg), 2.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 65.8% and then played with Taranaki Airs (New Zealand-NBL) averaging 17.3ppg, 8.6rpg, 4.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 69.6%. In 20-21 he began with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen (Germany-Pro A) averaging 17.6ppg, 9.3rpg, 2.7apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 62.7%, 3FGP: 42.9%, FT: 83.7%, and finished with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) averaging 9.8ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.3spg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 21.2%, FT: 76.1%. In his 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 is basketball life treating you?
Haha no problem! I love speaking with germanhoops whenever I can. I am currently in Spain Leb Oro but I was just recently in Portugal 1st division and in the summer, I was in New Zealand.
We last spoke when you were balling in Germany. Since you have played in Portugal and New Zealand. Has time flown since your days in Germany?
Yes time stops for nobody! So it has definitely been quite a while since my Germany days.
Is Germany a destination you might return to one day?
Uhh well, I don’t think Germany is a place I would be going back at this moment. I love the league and style of play, but I just don’t think we have the same understandings in what I want and need as a player to play there as of this moment.
You keep putting up excellent stats. Do you feel like your ready soon for the easyCredit BBL in Germany?
Oh absolutely! I feel that I can play in any league and be a great player and teammate at this point in my career for sure. The BBL is a tough league, but I believe I could play and excel in it.
Your ex team MLP Academics are in the easyCredit BBL. Is this a team you would like to go back to?
I would love to play with MLP Academics again. It was a great organization with great staff members, a great GM, great coach, with amazing players. Not to mention the amazing city of Heidelberg. It would be a place I would love to return to if having the chance.
Last season you put up fantastic stats in Portugal with U.D. Oliveirense (Portugal-LPB) averaging 17.2ppg), Reb-1 (9.7rpg), 2.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 65.8%. What did you appreciate most about the league?
I would say I appreciated the competition of the league. I know that In this day of age that Portugal is become more recognized as a better league with each year in the making, there were some players and teams there that really pushed me to work harder over the summer!
How would you compare the Portugal LPB in comparison to the German Pro A in style and competitiveness?
I would say Portugal is more competitive in my opinion because it was a 1st division. Pro A was a great league, but with Portugal’s budget and with teams like Benfica, Sporting, and Porto, I believe Portugal for sure has the edge over Pro A Germany no question.
You were really consistent in the LPB league. How do you feel did your game progress further there?
I think my game really got to evolve more in the LPB. I was in a tougher league, and got the opportunity to be one of the main players on my team. It gave me room to fail and there’s always growth in failure when you don’t give up and keep working!
You continue to be a fierce and potent rebounder for your height. Where do you want to take your rebounding game now at this stage of your career?
Well as I stated before in other interviews, rebounding isn’t just something that’s always come natural to me. It’s just effort and of course it helps with good timing and jumping abilities haha, but it really is just something you can’t practice. It’s more of a want and I believe I will have that mentality in any league I play in.
You were swept by Benfica in the playoffs. What will you always remember form these series and why couldn’t you get over the hump?
Losing to Benfica was tough. I think what most I got from that series was that I just have to work more and more to become better and better and give myself the best chance to compete. They had a little more depth then us with the budget of their team being bigger and them also being in Champions league now, that just showed they’re a great team, and the difference in levels.
How much easier did Derrick Colter make your game with his fine playmaking? Is he a guy that you would always wish to have in your team?
Derrick was a great teammate. He was a guy that came to work everyday and had heart over height. He made my job much easier with taking the pressure of me handling the ball so much and making plays for not just me but for everyone. I think any team would always be lucky to have him.
There are some very good players playing in Portugal as well as ex NBA guys. Who was your toughest opponent that season on the floor?
Ouu, this is a tough one. There were many great guys as you stated before but the one that stood out most to me was Travante Williams. He was a guy that you knew when he was on the court with his energy and presence. A tough match up for anyone!
Recently you played for Taranaki Airs (New Zealand-NBL). I guess you can’t get enough of basketball. Do you feel the extra competition is better now for your career then just grinding in the gym at home?
Going to the Airs was a decision I felt was best for me because it was a chance to see what the competition was like on the other side of the world besides Europe. It was a chance to work on my game, but also get real game experiences at the same time. I was still grinding in the gym of course as well. That doesn’t change if I’m playing or not!
What kind of an experience has it been playing in New Zealand? The NBL is an up and coming league with very good players. What has been your impression of the league and how strong is it in comparison of other leagues that you have played in?
The NBL was a tough league! I didn’t know what to expect. The tempo and style of play was similar to that of the NBA, not the level wise of course, but with how freely they play and the spacing of the court. It was for sure an experience I was grateful for. It’s up there with a league like Pro A Germany I would say.
You continue to dominate in your play. What is your secret to being able to adapt anywhere that you have played?
I think it’s just mentality and work ethic honestly. I’ve always been told that ‘I can’t do this in this league’ and ‘I can’t do that in another league’ and that drives me to show that I can be me and succeed in any league I play in!
What has it been like playing with veteran Anthony Hilliard? He has really been around for more than a decade. Can a guy like you still learn something from him?
Oh of course! I can always learn no matter what age I am! But playing with Ant? whew! That was nothing more than amazing honestly! A guy that can really go! 3 level scorer and unselfish to the last drop. It was one of my best experiences getting to learn from him and Javonte Douglas, another guy that can go! They were like my two older brothers, I got to learn so much from them in such a short time. I loved every minute of it honestly.
How did you explore New Zealand? How exotic was it?
New Zealand was a cool place to be and see. The mountains and the way the land structure was. It was surreal. I don’t think I took more pictures than in any other countries I have been in. Just ask my teammates!
You have signed with Club Ourense Baloncesto (Leb Gold Spain). What kind of an experience has it been in the early going playing in Spain? How does the style and level compare and adjust to your game?
Spain as people have mentioned before is a tough league. It is by far the most tactical league I have played in so far in my career. I think however this style will be in my favor. It will allow me to slow my game down more and learn how to be more dominant in ball screen pick n rolls and also in playing off the ball. I feel that my quickness and athleticism will thrive here and it will give me an edge on players as well.
What kind of a role do you have? Will you be that scorer and rebound monster that you have always been?
Well my role coming here is to defend, and score, and rebounds just come with it regardless. I think I will play a big part on this team and I’m ready for the challenge. I always look to come into a team and be a monster on both defense and offense and do whatever it takes to win with my team. As stated before, some speculators think I can’t consistently be the player I was in the league prior and I LOVE to prove them wrong!
There are quite a lot of different nationalities on the team. How vital will the various player types be for the success of your game?
Well for a team to be successful, it needs different players to do different things. As long as we all are on the same mindset to win at whatever cost, and to play the role we are given to a T, I believe that every player on the team is vital in their own way. They just have to know how to execute it and give the most of what the team needs from them.
You averaged 4 assists in New Zealand. How proud are you of showing this part of your game and do you feel like you could be that facilitator for your new team?
That was biggest personal achievement in my eyes there in the NBL. Not being known as a guy who gets assists, it felt good to show that part of my game. I’ve always had it, but I couldn’t show it with the position that I normally played. Getting to go there and playing the Point Guard, got to give me the chance I need to show that I can not only score and rebound, but I can also get guys involved and really be a facilitator and playmaker when needed. It just got to show how diverse I really am in my opinion. As far as in Spain? I guess you’ll just have to wait and see!
Where do you rank Steph Curry now in the talk of the best point guards of all-time?
I think as far as just point guards, Steph is number 1 honestly. I don’t think I can think of one that’s better than him in every aspect and as far as what he bring to a team and how he effects the whole organization, he is for-sure number 1 in this day and age.
When you return home what is always the first restaurant you check out?
Haha if you know me, you know Chick-fil-A is definitely the place I will be eating at no questions about it! It’s my favorite fast food change ever.
Thanks Shaun for the chat.