Manchester Giants have continued building for the new BBL season with the signing of American forward Willie Clayton.
Clayton, 25, who hails from Thomasville, Georgia and stands at 6’8”, is the fifth confirmed member of the Giants roster for 2018/19 – alongside Callum Jones, Ingus Bankevics, Vlatko Granic and Mike McCall Jr.
He said: “I’m pretty excited to come over. It’s the perfect move for my future. The BBL is a great league and it gives me a chance to compete as the best.
“I try to be dominant, a grinder and I work hard. I dive on the floor and do all the dirty work that maybe other players don’t want to do, I outwork everyone and everybody and that’s how I’ve always been.
“I’m expecting to win. I’m a winner. I’m a competitor. I know last year didn’t turn out how the coach and the club wanted, but that’s why he’s doing things different this summer, and it will be a lot different next season.
“I’m looking forward to working with everybody at the club and making sure we do the business on and off the court.”
Clayton had his High School jersey retired as the leading scorer in Thomasville High School’s history, before moving on to an excellent NCAA Division 1 college career.
In three years with Charlotte 49ers he averaged 9 points and 7 rebounds per game and in his Freshman year was named in the ESPN.com Top 25 Freshmen Team, the A-10 All-Rookie Team, and was ESPN’s mid-season Rookie of the Year. In 2013-14 he was ninth in the nation for offensive rebounds and 38th for total rebounds, while in 2012-13 he led the Atlantic-10 in field goal percentage. In 2013-14 he had a spell of 22 consecutive double-figure scoring games, including a run of six double-doubles in seven games.
He completed his Senior season at Georgia State Panthers, scoring 6 points and pulling in 7 rebounds per outing, with his 237 rebounds being the tenth most for a single season in Georgia State’s history. He had 19 double-doubles in his college career.
Clayton graduated straight into his rookie professional campaign with Piratas in Ecuador, averaging a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Upon the completion of the Ecuadorian season, he joined Girne in Cyprus, again averaging a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds
Giants coach Danny Byrne said: “Willie is very strong, uses his body extremely well in the post, and scores at a high percentage around the rim. Offensively he is a very clever and powerful player in the paint. Importantly, we think he will form a strong front court partnership with Vlatko (Granic) as they have very different, complementary, skillsets.
“Willie is a very mature player, as one of the captains on his team at Georgia State, and with two professional campaigns already under his belt. Defensively, again, he uses his size and physicality, gets in good positions to take charges, and generally puts it on the line for his team.
“We have looked for high-character individuals this year who will fight through adversity as one and represent Giants and what we stand for in the right way. Willie sums that up, with an attitude and work ethic that is second to none. Our fans will love him.”
Clayton is due to arrive in the UK next month and will make his first appearance in Giants colours against USA Select on Sunday September 2 (5pm tip-off). Tickets are available at www.manchestergiants.com/tickets or by calling 0161 747 2485.