Shocker seniors: Darral Willis Jr. continued a trend of junior college big men who made an impact at WSU
There were several former Shockers who wrapped up standout seasons playing basketball professionally overseas, but 2018 graduate Darral Willis undoubtedly had the best of them all.
“Machine Gun” Willis, as WSU coach Gregg Marshall once called him, was the best player on the best team in the top-tier league in Cyprus. He averaged 14.9 points and 9.7 rebounds for Keravnos Strovolou and led them to the Division A championship.
As a result, Willis was chosen the league’s player and forward of the year. He also earned all-league, all-imports and all-defensive team honors.
After playing two years at Pear River Community College in Mississippi, Willis transferred to WSU for his final two seasons. He started 19 games over two seasons with career averages of 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in just 17 minutes per game.
In his first season of professional ball, Willis, a 6-foot-9 forward, was nearly unstoppable inside. He made 53.9 percent of his two-point shots and shot more than six free throws per game, making 78.9 percent of them.
But Willis wasn’t the only former Marshall player who had a standout season. Here is a recap of former WSU graduates who played professionally this past season:
Zach Brown led his team in scoring at 15.8 points and ranked No. 9 overall in France’s third-tier league. Brown made 54 percent of his two-pointers and 40 percent of his three-pointers (5.8 attempts per game). He also averaged 4.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals for CEP Lorient, which finished 16-15 in league play and out of the playoffs.
Conner Frankamp was the best player on one of the best teams in Bulgaria’s top-tier league. Frankamp was third in the league in scoring at 19.4 points, as he made 55 percent of his two-pointers, 49 percent of his three-pointers (6.0 attempts per game) and 85 percent of his free throws. Frankamp also added 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game for Beroe, which finished second in the league with a 19-5 record and lost to the eventual champions in the playoff semifinals. Frankamp also led the team to a 13-1 record and a championship game appearance in the Balkan League, averaging 21.7 points, 3.7 assists and 2.1 steals in 12 games.
Rashard Kelly was the third-leading rebounder in the top-tier league in Russia at 7.7 per game. Kelly also averaged 11.0 points in 26.2 minutes per game for Parma Basket, which finished 5-21 and out of the league playoffs.
Shaquille Morris only played eight games for Kyoto Hannaryz in Japan’s top-tier league, but he averaged 16.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in less than 30 minutes per game in those games. Kyoto finished 31-29 and barely missed the league playoffs.
Rauno Nurger was second on his team in scoring and was top-10 in the league at 13.3 points for Levitec Huesca in Spain’s second-tier league. Nurger made 61 percent of his two-pointers and 78 percent of his free throws, while also adding 6.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks as the team’s starting power forward. Huesca finished 18-16 in league play and barely missed the LEB Gold playoffs.
Anton Grady played for Stade Nabeulien in Tunisia, but statistics from this past season were unavailable.
Darius Carter averaged 10.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per game as the starting center for BG Goettingen in Germany’s top-tier league. The team finished 11-23 and out of the playoffs.
Tekele Cotton averaged 10.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 29 minutes per game in 19 games for Fiat Torino in Italy’s top-tier league. Cotton also averaged 10.3 points and 3.2 rebounds for the team, which finished out of the playoffs in league play and winless in Eurocup play.
Kadeem Coleby averaged 12.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.3 blocks as the starting center for the Akita Northern Happinets in the top-tier Japanese league. Coleby ranked third in the league in blocks, while his team finished 17-43 in league play.
Cleanthony Early led the second-tier Japanese league in scoring at 29.4 points. He made 57 percent of his two-pointers, 41 percent of his three-pointers (on 6.4 attempts per game) and 81 percent of his free throws (7.9 attempts per game). Early also averaged 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals for the team that posted a league-worst 11-49 record. He was chosen second-team all-league and on the all-imports team.
Chadrack Lufile just began his season playing for the Guelph Nighthawks in Canada’s second-tier league. Lufile has carved out a starting role for the team, whose season began in late May and runs through August.
Malcolm Armstead split time between three teams this past season, playing for Kymis in Greece, Buyukcekmece in Turkey and Prishtina in Kosovo.
Carl Hall is averaging 16.6 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds to go along with 1.3 blocks per game for Venados de Mazatlan, which is currently 14-18 and in eighth place in the 9-team top-tier Mexican league. Hall ranks No. 9 in the league in rebounds and No. 2 in blocked shots.
Toure’ Murry averaged 16.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals as the starting shooting guard for Assigeco Piacenza, which finished out of the playoffs in Italy’s second-tier league. Murry ranked third in the league in steals per game, while making 47 percent of his two-pointers and 35 percent of his three-pointers (on 6.4 attempts per game).
Joe Ragland has carved out a sixth man role on the best team in the Serbian top-tier league. Although he comes off the bench, Ragland averages a team-high 22.3 minutes and averages 10.7 points and 5.7 assists for Crvena Zvezda, which finished 11-0 in league play and is currently in the semifinals of the league playoffs. Ragland has also been the team’s leading scorer in Eurocup play, as he averaged a team-high 14.8 points and 6.0 assists in 16 games this season.
Garrett Stutz was the best player on his team in the second-tier Japanese league, leading the Toyotsu Fighting Eagles in points (20.9) and rebounds (13.0) on top of 4.0 assists. His team finished with a 41-19 record and barely missed the four-team playoffs, although Stutz still earned honorable mention all-league honors.
J.T. Durley averaged 16.6 points and 8.3 rebounds as a starter for Ostioneros de Guaymas, which finished last in Mexico’s top-tier league. But Durley finished fifth in the league in rebounding and shot 53 percent on two-pointers, 36 percent on three-pointers (on 6.3 attempts per game) and 83 percent on free throws.
Aaron Ellis averaged 10.0 points, 6.7 rebounds for Kaiserslautern, which finished middle of the pack in the third-tier German league.
Clevin Hannah averaged 11.6 points and 4.5 assists, while making 47.4 percent of his two-pointers and 44.8 percent of his three-pointers (on 4.0 attempts per game) as the starting point guard for Gran Canaria, a middle of the pack team in the top league in Spain.
Ramon Clemente recovered from an off-season injury and catch on with San Lorenzo de Almagra, which won the regular-season title in Argentina’s top-tier league. Clemente is averaging 5.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per game off the bench, as San Lorenzo is currently in the quarterfinals of the La Liga playoffs.
Mantas Griskenas averaged 7.1 points and made 48 percent of his three-pointers, playing 20.6 minutes per game off the bench for the Wetterbygden Stars in the top-tier league in Sweden.
Gal Mekel averaged 7.4 points and 4.9 assists for Zenit Sankt Petersburg in the VTB United League, the top tier in Russia. Mekel played a role in Zenit reaching the semifinals of the VTB playoffs, while he also averaged 7.7 points and 6.6 assists in seven Eurocup games for the club.