NCCU's Ray Willis signs pro deal with Slovakian team
Ray Willis wasn’t the bragging type.
Sure, he’d get animated and flex his skinny arms after rattling the rim for a dunk at N.C. Central’s McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium.
But after the games, Willis never referenced his own highlight reel unless asked, and even then he always would talk about how his teammates freed him to do what he did.
Willis still isn’t thumping his chest after signing a professional contract to play ball overseas in Slovakia with BC Prievidza.
“I’m just thankful,” Willis said. “I get to play a sport that I love and get paid for it. What more needs to be said?”
Willis (6-6, 164) barely filled his NCCU uniform, but he was strong enough to get to the rim and finish when he wasn’t pulling up for jumpers, averaging 13.3 points per game in two seasons with the Eagles.
“I’m honored to witness a dream come true for a young man of this caliber,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said. “Ray is such a deserving young man who committed himself to the greater good of the program.”
Willis transferred to NCCU from Oklahoma, where he was a teammate of Blake Griffin, now a star forward with the Los Angeles Clippers.
In his two seasons at NCCU, Willis scored in double figures 47 times and had at least 20 points in 11 games, including a career-high 28 points during a home loss to Delaware State on Jan. 28, 2012.
Willis earned a second-team all-conference spot in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference during both his junior and senior seasons at NCCU.
“His professional contract is a byproduct of his sacrifices,” Moton said. “Being paid to play this game is the ultimate honor of any student-athlete at this level.”
BC Prievidza, established in 1947, won a league championship during the 2011-12 season.
Moton, approaching his fifth season as NCCU’s head coach, appears to have an eye for talent and a knack for developing it.
Former Kansas State forward Dominique Sutton, who is from Durham, transferred to NCCU and played under Moton. Sutton last season was a rookie with the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA Development League.
Moton also coached former NCCU point guard Justin Leemow, who spent last season with the North Dallas Vandals, a semi-professional basketball team in the American Basketball Association.
NCCU is expected to bring back shooting guard Jeremy Ingram (6-3, 175) this season. He led the team in scoring and was the MEAC’s second leading scorer with 15.7 points per game.
The Eagles will be without forward Stanton Kidd (6-7, 215), who transferred to Colorado State. He was the third leading scorer in the MEAC, another nod toward Moton’s ability to land talent.
Moton recently added size and length to his program with the addition of six recruits averaging 6-7 and 204 pounds. Three won’t play for a year due to NCAA transfer rules.