Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
Blue Storm guard De’Antae McMurray drives to the basket against LCCC defender Michael Williams-Bey Feb. 23 at RiverBend Arena. The pair of Alton High products have a bond that stretches far past the basketball court.
EDITOR'S NOTE — This feature story was written prior to Michael Williams-Bey's felony arrest for unlawful possession of a controlled substance on Friday.
Michael Williams-Bey of Lewis and Clark Community College and De’Antae McMurray of Southwestern Illinois College are more than former teammates and close friends.
“We’re like brothers,” said Williams-Bey, a redshirt freshman guard at LCCC.
McMurray, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, said: “I enjoy playing against Mike because he’s like my brother.”
So when the Trailblazers welcomed the Blue Storm in a recent game at the George C. Terry River Bend Area, the pair renewed their close relationship.
SWIC won 104-67 as McMurray collected 7 points and 7 assists. Williams-Bey scored 10 points. And they guarded each other for much of the game.
“When I play against D’tae, it’s like playing against my brother,” Williams-Bey said. “We guard one another and we both play hard against each other.”
The Alton High graduates, who played together for three seasons at Marquette Catholic High before they transferred to AHS, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We grew up together and have been playing basketball with each other since we were little kids,” Williams-Bey said. “The friendship has always been there.”
Andre McMurray, D’tae’s dad and a high school and summer league coach, had a lot to do with that. He schooled his son and supplied Williams-Bey with guidance and insight.
“He has been like my dad,” Williams-Bey said of Andre McMurray’s influence. “Andre has given me a lot of confidence, worked with me to become a better basketball player and helped me become a man.
“He helped me in my time of need.”
Andre McMurray said, “Mike is like a second son to me, so he and D’tae are really close. I’ve known him since he was young and he lived with us in the seventh grade until he graduated from high school.”
He pointed out, “I didn’t want him to go by the wayside. I wanted to let him know what it means to be a man. He’s a great kid and he has a good spirit.
“Mike has the biggest heart I’ve seen in a basketball player. He’s fearless.”
The 5-10, 150-pound Williams-Bey has benefited from coach McMurray’s understanding and matured considerably since joining LCCC. He sat out his freshman season to revisit his goals and get his life pointed in the right direction.
“It was a smart move for me to redshirt last season,” Williams-Bey said. “I got everything together. So it has been a good experience for me here.”
LCCC also has made the most of the Williams-Bey Experience. The Trailblazers, who finished 10-20, liked his presence and production.
He was among the team leaders in scoring (12 points), rebounding (4.2) and assists (3.1) per game. Williams-Bey hit for 26 points in a recent 82-75 loss to John A. Logan Community College in Carterville. Dorian Scruggs, another AHS graduate, contributed 20 points. Williams-Bey then netted 18 points in the season-ending 69-62 loss to Kaskaskia.
“Both players are competing with the JUCO Division I athletes that typically have a size advantage at the positions they play,” LCCC coach Doug Stotler said. “The tough-mindedness of both players is admirable and is very valuable to our team.
He added, “Mike scores well by utilizing his quickness and is constantly assigned to defend the opponent’s best player. Mike has successfully defended very well against JUCO players despite giving up 4 to 5 inches in height every game.”
Scruggs didn’t play in the recent game against SWIC. McMurray, meanwhile, has already given a verbal commitment to Drake, a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bulldogs played March 3 in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Scottrade Center in St. Louis and lost their first-round game to Missouri State, 69-67. They finished with a 7-24 record.
“I’m really happy for D’Tae because he deserves it,” Williams-Bey said of McMurray, poised to join the Bulldogs.
There’s one more season for Williams-Bey at LCCC and then he can dream the big dream of playing at a four-year college.
“Hopefully, I can do the same thing that D’Tae did,” he said.
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