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William (Bill) Wesley Willoughby (born May 20, 1957 in Englewood, New Jerseymarker) is a retired Americanmarker professional basketball player. After graduating from Dwight Morrow High Schoolmarker in Englewood, he was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1975 NBA Draft as the first pick in the second round (19th overall), bypassing college for a chance to play professionally. He, along with Darryl Dawkins, were the first high school students to be drafted into the NBA.

Playing career

While Moses Malone (drafted into the American Basketball Association out of high school in 1974, prior to the 1976 ABA-NBA merger) and Dawkins enjoyed more successful professional careers, Willoughby had a career that was undistinguished. He was a journeyman who played for six different NBA teams in eight years, before his career ended with the New Jersey Nets in 1984, at the age of 26. Willoughby was tremendously athletic, having a 47 inch vertical leap. He had played center throughout his high school career, and was forced to play forward in the pros. Willoughby gained some notoriety in the 1981 NBA postseason while with the Houston Rockets by becoming the only player ever to block Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's "skyhook" at its apex.

Post playing career

Though he later regretted skipping college, Willoughby eventually received his degree in communications from Fairleigh Dickinson Universitymarker in 2001, at the age of 44. The NBA fully paid all of his college expenses, and, in return, Willoughby is a special advisor to the NBA who counsels high school players considering forsaking college basketball for the NBA.

Willoughby currently resides in Hackensack, New Jerseymarker.


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