This is the third in a 50-day summer series, counting down the top players in Michigan State basketball history, as I see them. The criteria is impact and performance at MSU only, professional career irrelevant. Have your own opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
No. 48 – Kevin Willis
Center, 1981-84, Detroit
The skinny: In his three years at MSU, Willis was a terrific rebounder, though somewhat raw offensively, having only played two seasons at Detroit Pershing at one at Jackson Community College.
Willis’ best season with the Spartans came in 1982-83, his junior year, when he averaged 13.3 points and 9.6 rebounds, and twice recorded 20-rebound games. Goran Suton is the only MSU player to accomplish the feat since. Willis was at his best in Big Ten play that year, putting up 14.3 points and a league-best 10.2 rebounds per game. That 1983 team also featured a young backcourt with freshman Scott Skiles and sophomore Sam Vincent.
Why he’s in the top 50: If this were a countdown of the best basketball players who’ve played at MSU, Willis would be about 30 spots higher. But his NBA career, which spanned 1984-2007 after being a first-round selection of the Atlanta Hawks, doesn’t help him here. Still, for two of his three seasons at MSU, he was a force on the glass and put up double figures in points for NIT-caliber teams.