There’s no missing Troy Whittington ’11. At the start of a game, he’s the guy pounding on the metal folding chair beside him, getting the crowd as fired up as he is.
During a game, he’s the one flying high above the rim, blocking shots at one end of the court and dunking with authority at the other.
And after a game, he’s the one at the center of the celebration, and the one who will pause to spend a few moments with some of his biggest fans, like 11-year-old Duffy Martin. “He’s just awesome,” she gushes.
Coach Mike Maker agrees. “You know who Troy is? He is Bill Russell. He’s an under-sized, left-handed center with the ability to take over a game, and he has a will to win that cannot be measured.” (The legendary Russell played on 11 NBA championship teams in 13 years with the Celtics and is considered by many to be the greatest team champion of all time and the ultimate team player.)
Whittington, of Brooklyn, N.Y., wasn’t always a crowd favorite and team leader. He turned down Division I (including Ivy League) offers to come to Williams, but initially he wasn’t living up to the hype on the basketball court and was struggling academically.
Over time, though, he gained an appreciation for the dedication his teammates were showing and began to work hard to improve both his game and his studies. Maker remembers meeting Whittington’s mom during the player’s sophomore season. “I saw immediately where his core values and substance come from,” Maker says. “I’m pretty sure that’s the day Troy decided to turn things around and maximize his potential.”
Now a senior, Whittington was recently named NESCAC player of the year, as well as First Team All-NESCAC, along with teammate James Wang. Whittington’s playing in the final NCAA tournament of his career after leading his team to a 25-2 season. Last year, the Ephs made it to the national championship but lost the title game to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.