Payton Willis signs with Hapoel Gilboa Galil

The Israeli League team signed Willis after he played in the NBA Summer League with the Golden State Warriors.

Guard Payton Willis brings the ball up the court at Williams Arena on Sunday, Nov. 24. The Gophers defeated North Dakota 79-56.

Nur B. Adam

Guard Payton Willis brings the ball up the court at Williams Arena on Sunday, Nov. 24. The Gophers defeated North Dakota 79-56.

by Rogan Isbell

Former Gophers guard Payton Willis signed a contract with Hapoel Gilboa Galil for the 2022-23 season earlier this month. Gilboa Galil plays in the Israeli Premier Basketball League, Israel’s highest level of professional basketball.

Willis will now be the second Gopher alumni to sign with an Israeli team this summer, joining Austin Hollins.

The 24-year-old grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from Fayetteville High School in 2016. Willis played his first two years of collegiate basketball at Vanderbilt; he mostly came off of the bench and averaged about five points per game over those seasons.

He then decided to transfer to Minnesota after the 2017-18 season.

Willis was ineligible to play in the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules. However, in 2019-20, he finished second on the team in assists (53) and third in steals (21). The Gophers had a record of 15-16 before the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely ended their season.

Following the 2019-20 season, Willis transferred again to the College of Charleston where he played one season before returning to the Gophers for one final run. Willis, along with other collegiate athletes, was granted an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic shortening many seasons.

In his senior year, the Gophers named Willis a team captain, and he had a career year. He averaged 15.9 points per game, second-highest on the team, and led them in assists and steals with 124 and 42 respectively.

He also was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week twice during the season.

After his collegiate career, Willis went undrafted in the 2022 NBA draft but was signed by the Golden State Warriors to play in the NBA Summer League. Across seven total games, Willis averaged 4.7 points per game and made 46.2% of his field goals.

Now, Willis is headed overseas to Hapoel Gilboa Galil. The team will look to improve on their 9-13 record from last season, when they finished as the ninth seed in the Israeli Premier League and lost in the first round of the playoffs.