By LARRY VAUGHT
For the last few weeks, Kentucky’s most dependable rebounder has become junior Derek Willis. He’s also become a consistent third scorer behind Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray
“I’m really proud of him. He’s rebounding the ball. He’s getting better defensively. Still not there. But this team believes in him and he believes in himself more,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after Tuesday’s win over Georgia.
Kentucky likely will need the best Willis has Saturday when it plays at South Carolina. A win could move UK to the top of the SEC.
“You know, everybody, because of what’s happened here, I keep saying this, ‘He’s like on a normal path,'” Calipari said about Willis’ recent surge. “His path is like the normal path. And everybody is like, ‘wow, he’s still here?’ What? You know, and I’m just happy for him, and you know, if Dom [Hawkins] hadn’t been hurt, you’d probably have two of those guys.”
Willis has learned not to get complacent despite his numbers.
“I wouldn’t say settled in, but I’m just trying to do the things to stay there, honestly,” Willis said.
Calipari has even used him as a third guard at times to rest other starters.
“It’s not been bad. I wouldn’t say I’m not used to it, but I have to learn more plays and try to get more options with the offense, and like I said, just the defensive aspects, definitely,” Willis said.