KALAMAZOO -- It didn't take long for Western Michigan Center Shayne Whittington to raise eyebrows around the conference last year as a redshirt junior. Recording double doubles in the first two games of the season (15 points, 13 rebounds against Cornell and 10 & 10 against Marygrove) will do that. Whittington went on to record a conference high 12 double doubles last season on his way to a Second Team All-MAC selection. Whittington won't sneak up on anybody this year as our number three ranked player in the MAC.
Whittington had a career year for the Broncos in 2012-13, setting career-highs across the board as he established himself as one of the best big men in the MAC. Whittington started all 35 games for the Broncos, ranking 10th in the conference in scoring (13.2 ppg) and second in rebounding (8.8 rpg). He set a new program record for blocked shots in a season with 58 and his total of 308 rebounds ranks third in a single season in program history. With Whittington pounding the glass, the Broncos led the MAC in rebounding margin (+5.6), and his ability to block or alter shots helped them to the third-best field goal percentage defense in the conference (.406).
"The coaches have made it known that I will be the subject of most of our opponents scouting reports," Whittington said after a recent Bronco practice. "I have been working all off season on both my perimeter skills and passing the ball out of the double team to get ready for what we expect from other teams defense."
"The post is the easiest position to double. You put a defender in front and a defender in back," according to Broncos head coach Steve Hawkins. "But Shayne is very good at knowing who that second defender has left open and getting them the ball. He is a good passer from the post with excellent court awareness."
"I think that Austin (junior point guard Austin Ritchie) is going to have a huge year because his role will be better defined and he will be asked to distribute. He is good at getting me the ball in the right place," said Whittington. "And DB (David Brown) is a threat from outside and penetrating. We have a good group of guys that can play the three and four ( forwards). I really like our chances."
Whittington has one of the largest rooting sections at University Arena consisting of grandparents, parents, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins who make the short 25 minute trip from the Paw Paw area to cheer on the local kid. "Sure I can hear them and it get's me pumped a bit, particularly when I get a big block or a nice dunk." said Whittington.
Whittington may be the most pro ready big man that Western has produced since Paul Griffin went on to a NBA career with the Spurs (Not counting former center Joe Reitz, who is playing football professionally for the Colts). "Sure I think about it and yes I do hope to play professionally," said Whittington. "I will just do what is necessary to put my team in a position to be successful. The rest of that stuff will take care of itself."
Whittington has come along ways since the skinny kid from Lawrence High School set foot on the Western Michigan campus. His continued development will go a long way toward another successful Bronco basketball campaign.