Former Niagara Falls boys basketball star Willie Lightfoot had offers from schools in power conferences. But the 6-foot point guard opted to pick a school in a mid-major conference that piques his interest.
And he’ll be moving slightly closer to his Niagara Falls home after playing for prep schools in Kansas and North Carolina.
Lightfoot announced via video on Twitter that he will play college basketball at Bowling Green. In picking the Ohio-based university, Lightfoot is guaranteed to swing by Western New York at least once a season since the Falcons play in the same conference as University at Buffalo.
Bowling Green is coming off a 14-12 season, but prior to last year’s pandemic-impacted campaign had posted back-to-back 20-plus win seasons under coach Mike Huger.
The Falcons play an up-tempo game, which appeals to Lightfoot, who likes to push the pace. The coaching staff kept tabs on Lightfoot, who will play this season at Good Better Best Academy in Durham, N.C. The past two seasons, he played for Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas.
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“The constant love and coach Huger is a point guard, I relate to him,” said Lightfoot as to why he selected Bowling Green. “I think I’ll learn a lot from him.”
“Transition basketball is definitely one of Willie's strengths,” said former Niagara Falls High coach Sal Constantino. “He’s grown into quite a player. He’s getting the full ride. My personal opinion, I think Bowling Green is a great fit for him. The head coach there, coach Huger, has really prided himself on being a defensive coach. That’s one of Willie’s strengths if not his biggest strength.”
Lightfoot can make his commitment official during the signing period, which begins Nov. 10.
Lightfoot has been working toward this moment since he started dribbling a basketball.
He helped Niagara Falls High School reach the state semifinals as a freshman in 2019. He was one of the first freshmen in the area to make All-Western New York first team, an honor usually reserved for upperclassmen.
That season, he helped the Wolverines rally for an overtime win in the Section VI Class AA final with a 39-point performance. He scored Falls’ final 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime in the win over Williamsville North. He followed with a 34-point performance in a state quarterfinal win over Section V champion McQuaid.
As a freshman, Lightfoot averaged 17.9 points and 5.3 assists. He then went to Sunrise Christian Academy and played last season on the school's top prep team.
While Lightfoot had offers from Alabama, Oregon and University at Buffalo, he said it came down to Bowling Green and South Florida.
He was a reserve last year at Sunrise, which ranked in the top four in the country. He’s rated as the No. 38 point guard in the country by rivals.com.
“I knew I’d get to this point because I knew I always had it,” Lightfoot said of his opportunity to commit. “My freshman year, I showed people I was different from the rest of the guys that came up. I knew I would stay the course.”
Commitment video drop @12💪🏾— willie lightfoot (@willielightfoo6) September 22, 2021