Last Friday’s game against SEC foe Bedford was deadlocked at 58-58 in the final seconds when Huron Coach Jay Shunnar called a time out. Shunnar wanted to make sure that his players knew what everyone in the gym already knew – get the ball into the hands of Lewis Willis.
The message was delivered and the senior point guard did the rest, scoring a layup and knocking down a free throw to push his team into the lead and then into the win column with a 61-58 victory over the Kicking Mules.
Willis is a scorer. Plain and simple. That’s the scouting report on him anyway. He can certainly defend. He’s a very good passer and one of Huron’s team leaders this season. But what separates the senior guard – his calling card if you will – is his range from the outside and one of the smoothest jumpers you will ever see in a high school gym.
Willis plans on taking his talents to the next “gym.”
“I have a few NAIA offers but haven’t made any decisions yet,” said Willis. “I do want to play basketball in college but academics is very important to me as well. It will come down to where I fit in best.”
And that perfect fit may not be discovered for a few months or at least until the end of the basketball season. Willis is focused on helping his team win and in the process hopefully open a few more eyes and create a few more possibilities.
“I’m having a pretty good season so far,” he said. “More colleges have been calling so I’m just waiting to see what develops. I certainly do want to play basketball in college and study business.”
Huron is having a solid season but there is plenty of competition in the immediate area with Skyline and Pioneer. The River Rats have lost twice to the Eagles but knocked off the Pioneers in their only meeting so far this season. Huron recently lost to Chelsea, beat Bedford before Monday’s tough loss on the road to Skyline.
“I feel great about our team,” Willis said. “We have a good group of seniors and we know what we need to do. We just need to go out and do it.”
Before the Skyline game, Huron had eight straight games holding teams under 60 points. The held the Eagles to 58 points but only scored 49 in the loss. Defense is what the River Rats are all about.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Willis said.
Willis prides himself on being a complete player.
“I’m a point guard but I also need to look for my shot too,” he says. “I try to mix in scoring, which is what the team needs me to do, but also opening up the floor and distributing the ball to my teammates. If I can make the game easier for them it will make the game easier for me. I also feel like I’m one of the better defenders on the team and pride myself on my defense and what I bring there.”
Willis started last year as a junior on a team stacked with seniors. While he didn’t have as big a role, he certainly contributed to the River Rats success.
“I scored when they needed me to but we had a talented senior class last year so I didn’t have to do that much to be successful,” he said. “I learned a lot from them last year. I am just trying to work hard this year and be consistent. I’m not a vocal leader but sometimes I need to step out of my comfort level and speak up. I have three years of varsity experience so I need to share my experience with my teammates.”
Playing varsity as a sophomore was a giant leap.
“It was really fast paced and took me some time to catch on but I learned a lot that sophomore year,” he said.
Now, as a senior, the goals are bigger and so is the payoff. The better the River Rats do, the more exposure for Willis and his teammates. But the goal at Huron is always to be champion – whether in the league or Districts or beyond.
“We pride ourselves on winning championships and want to win Districts this year,” Willis said. “The seniors this year really want to win a District title. That’s our biggest goal.”
And to do that, they will want the ball in Willis’ capable hands.