TAYLORVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
SPORTS HALL OF FAME
PORTRAIT

WILLIS POWELL

For Achievement in College or Professional Athletics

    Willis Powell was an outstanding football, track and basketball standout for the Tornadoes from 1938 through 1940. A running back on the football team, Powell was the leading scorer on the 1939 squad, scoring eight touchdowns during their 5 -3 -1 season. On the basketball court, Powell was a regular on the varsity in both the 1939 and 1940 seasons. During the 1940 season, he and his Tornadoes teammates were the first Taylorville team to play in the state finals in Champaign, losing to Paris in the first round.

    After graduating from high school, Powell played basketball and football at A & T University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Professional basketball in the mid-forties was not an option for Powell, so he came back to Illinois where he took a job with the Pepsi Cola Company. In 1947, Powell was contacted by Abe Saperstien, owner and coach of the Original Harlem Globetrotters professional basketball team. Powell join the Globetrotters in 1947 and stormed the country for three years, playing an average of 300 games a year. During that time the Globetrotters, now known for their entertainment and fun basketball, were a team that would accept serious challenges from any team in the country. They were so successful that in games that were "blowouts", they began developing the entertaining style they would become known for.