By LARRY VAUGHT
It wasnâ€™t all that hard for Derek Willis to explain why he made his verbal commitment to play basketball for coach John Calipari at Kentucky.
â€œKentucky was just the best fit for me,â€ said the 6-9 Bullitt East junior Friday his announcement touched off a huge roar of approval from teammates, family, students and friends gathered to see whether he would pick UK, Louisville, Indiana or Purdue.
Willis said he actually told UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua almost two weeks ago that he was coming to Kentucky and he only decided to make it public to not only take pressure off himself, but also to let him and his teammates concentrate on getting back to the state tournament. A few minutes after his announcement, he was already trending on Twitter.
Willis said he had a â€œreally good relationshipâ€ with all the coaches recruiting him, but that he had a â€œgreat relationshipâ€ with Calipari.
â€œHe feels Iâ€ˆcan play mulitple positions,â€ Willis said. â€œIâ€ˆjust felt Iâ€ˆneeded to come out with this decision now to be fair to everyone.â€
What stood out about Kentucky?
â€œThe best players in the nation play there and I wanted to join them,â€ Willis said.
His parents are both Louisville fans, but Willis said no one tried to influence him and it wasnâ€™t hard to pick Kentucky.
â€œKentucky is just the best fit for me and thatâ€™s why I chose them,â€ Willis, who is UKâ€™s first verbal commit in the 2013 recruiting class, said.
He says his family helped him establish â€œpros and consâ€ of each school recruiting him and was available for input when he needed it.
He had verbally committted to Purdue before backing off that commitment. Willis, a top 30 national recruit, said he â€œrushedâ€ into that decision and there will not be a repeat with his decision about Kentucky.
â€œI am set for Kentucky. Thatâ€™s it. I felt like Iâ€ˆrushed into that Purude commitment. Iâ€ˆgot excited,â€ he said. â€œI waited, thought it over and decided Kentucky was the best place for me.â€
He said he normally was asked all day every day about his potential college choice and was also tiring of all the recruiting calls.
â€œYou like to be a kid. Recruiters calling all the time gets kind of annoying, but you get used to it,â€ Willis said.
He says his decision adds no pressure to his high school career.
â€œI think it is a little bit more motivating if anything,â€ he said. â€œI want to come out and play hard. It just motivates me more knowing Iâ€ˆam going to Kentucky.â€