, Muskogee, OK


April 25, 2014

Connors’ Atwood picks Sun Devils

WARNER – It was decision day for Willie Atwood on Thursday, one of the most highly recruited Connors State basketball players in school history. The 6-8 forward, who was recruited by more than 40 NCAA Division I schools cut the list to three schools — Iowa, Florida State and Arizona State.

At a ceremony just outside Melvin Self Field House on Thursday, Atwood revealed he was taking his talents to Tempe, Ariz., to join coach Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils of the Pac-12 Conference.

“It was a difficult decision for me, because all three are great schools,” said the 6-foot-8 sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., who will graduate from CSC on May 9.

“Arizona State was the best fit for me because of my situation.  Coach Sendek believes in me and I can start for them immediately.”

The Sun Devils were 21-12 last year,  10-8 in the Pac-12.

During this past season Atwood was a third team National Junior College Athletic Association Al-American selection and was the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference and Region II Player of the Year. He averaged 20.8 points last season in leading the Cowboys to a 23-7 season record. He was also named to the Region II All-Tournament team.

Atwood was Bill Muse’s 14th junior college All-American during his 22-year coaching stint at Connors. Atwood averaged 15.6 points, nine rebounds and two assists over two seasons, with 11 double-doubles this past season including a career-high 41 points this past season against Independence (Kan.).

“Willie is just a special kid,” said Muse. “He took us to the national tournament as a freshman, won the conference as a sophomore.  We won a lot of games with Willie but he has also done a lot for this college, the faculty, staff who have enjoyed his personality.

“He has been a high class student (communications major) and citizen who has worked very hard to improve his game.”

Muse noted that Atwood had limited options coming out of high school.

“He has come a long way,” the coach said. “I think Willie fits Arizona State and that conference. They have lost their entire front line and he feels he can go in and be an impact player.”

Atwood expressed thanks to his teammates and Muse.

“Coach Muse has been my mentor and has guided me,” he said. “He made me work hard and helped me reach my potential. He’s like a good granddad to me. ...I will always keep in touch with Connors after I leave. This is my family. You are always a part of the Connors family.”

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