At Freeport ten years ago Willie Veasley did it all. He scored more than two thousand points in his career and he made first team All-State as a senior.
At Butler he won more games than any player in Bulldogs history, and he started in the NCAA Championship game in 2010. Butler came within an eyelash of beating Duke and winning it all when a last second half-court shot just missed.
These days Veasley can be found sitting on the bench at Illinois State University. He’s the Director of basketball operations on Dan Muller’s staff.
“Right now I handle basically everything. Travel, scheduling, stuff like that. Everything not on the court I deal with right now,” says Veasley.
The last two years Veasley was the Redbirds video coordinator. He was in charge of gathering opponents game films and breaking it down, and scouting. He’s done a little of everything and he hopes all those duties will have laid the ground work for a head coaching job one day.
“That’s my main goal now,” says Veasley “As soon as I finished playing I know I wanted to stay involved in basketball, and the next best thing was coaching.”
As a player at Butler Veasley learned from one of the best Brad Stevens. He’s now the head coach of the Boston Celtics. Stevens helped Veasley land his job at Illinois State.
“Me and him went back on forth on my resume then he called me on day and said, ‘Hey coach Muller has a position opening. Are you interested?’ He put me in touch with coach Muller and here I am now,” says Veasley.
One of the main things Vesley learned at Butler from Stevens was to always stay calm on the court no matter how bleak things might look. Now Veasley is trying to learn all he can from Muller.
“Both of them are brilliant basketball minds,” says Veasley. “Every day I learn something new from coach Muller, just X’s and O’s. How he handles players on and off the court.”
Illinois State is on the rise. The Redbirds are in second place in the Missouri Valley Conference and they’re coming off an upset win over Wichita State Saturday night. A win that had the students storming the court.
“I think it’s huge for our program,” says Veasley. “It’s a win that can take our program to new heights.”
It’s scenes like that that remind Veasley of those great Butler days when the Bulldogs were shocking the nation and their fans were going wild.
“Those four years were the most fun I’ve every had playing basketball. Just a great group of guys that made it special.”