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Willis believes Humphries could be next man up for UK

By LARRY VAUGHT

Isaac Humphries (Vicky Graff Photo)

Isaac Humphries (Vicky Graff Photo)

If Kentucky coach John Calipari is right, senior forward Alex Poythress will be out two weeks with an injury to his right knee. He  missed most of last season with a left knee injury.

Kentucky beat Florida Saturday and Georgia Tuesday rather easily even without Poythress. However, UK has games at South Carolina and Texas A&M in the next two weeks before Poythress would be scheduled to return.

How do the Cats cope?

“Next man up. That’s just kind of the theme. One guy goes down, isn’t playing, next guy up,” junior forward Derek Willis said after Tuesday’s win.

Who is the next man?

“I’ve been really impressed with Isaac (Humphries). Even when he came in he was probably the one freshman I was most impressed with. I mean, obviously they’re all very good players, but I liked his skill set,” Willis said.

“He kind of knows how to play the game and he’s a big, physical kid. That’s what we need, I think. Our post presence, it differs at times. I think he could give us a really good post presence once he starts to get comfortable and getting in his little rotation and playing his minutes.”

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  1. KingGhidora

    Humphries has been playing well for sure but the guy that had a big impact on this team was Willis. It seems like that when he came into his own and started playing defense like we knew he could all along and he started rebounding and he got more confidence in his shots that was the point UK really turned around. Obviously Ulis and Murray have been sensational in that period too but they were playing all year. The team needed a leader and I think Willis stepped into that role. Just to be honest about it the team had been looking to Alex but as good as he can be he can disappear at times too. I don’t really know what it is. The same with Lee, another upper classman the team had been looking to for leadership. Lee is a great player and if his jump shot had developed like we all hoped early this year he might still be the best big on the floor for the Cats. But that didn’t happen and from where I’m sitting the best big now is clearly Willis.

    I said before the season started that he could be an All American if he got rolling. He might well be on his way. A little more confidence in his shot and the sky is the limit. He has all the tools. That steal and jam was a perfect example. That was big time basketball right there.

    Way to go Derek and keep up the good work. It’s good to see a Ky kid do well.

    1. Larry Pup

      You have been right about Willis for a long time. He’s the real deal now. Good to see.

      1. Larry Vaught

        Told you Willis could play. He was terrific in high school and nothing he is doing now really surprises me

        1. KingGhidora

          You were the first I heard say that Larry. I remember you talking about him signing when people were saying it was a wasted scholarship. Those people were wrong and you knew it before any of us got to see him play. I knew it for sure when I saw him move. His shooting form is near perfect and he moves very well for a guy that big. Very well. That’s one dangerous combination. And yes it’s been his defense and rebounding that won him playing time. He could always shoot but if you don’t play D well you don’t play for Cal. And this team’s defense is looking sensational right now. Ga. was no slouch of a team but UK made them look sick.. It looked almost like the beat downs dished out last year by the Cats. And Willis has played a big part in that. He stretches the floor on offense and on defense.

          Pup I remember when CBS picked Wiltjer as their pre-season choice for POY. You and I both said Willis was better and he is. Kyle is a fine player but he can’t move his feet like Derek. That makes a a huge difference.

    2. Grant

      I think you and I both picked him over the kid that transferred to gonzaga

      1. KingGhidora

        Yes we did Grant. There were several of us that knew he had more potential than Wiltjer ever did. Kyle is a good kid and a fine player but he doesn’t have the feet to do what Derek can do. Just like that steal and break away slam. He had a player coming up on him quick from behind. It’s a lot easier to run without dribbling. But Willis had the speed to stay far enough ahead and the ball control to play his shot almost perfectly. I just can’t see Wiltjer ever making a play like that. And that play turned the game around for UK. That’s leadership. Yes Murray had made a 3 the trip down the floor before the steal but that kind of excitement generates effort by the rest of the team because they want to get those big time crowd reactions. I know when I played the only time I ever really heard the crowd was after a big play then they would get very loud. Most of the time we didn’t even notice what was going on in the stands but when something big happened the whole team took notice. And it’s contagious.

  2. TrueBlueJohn

    It is really odd how the Light bulb suddenly flips on for some kids. It certainly has happened for Derek, and it couldn’t have happened at a more opportune moment. It wasn’t his offense that got him on the floor, but his defense and rebounding. Those two phases are nothing more than effort. His shooting is a real weapon, but if you don’t guard anyone, you won’t be on the floor very long. This season certainly looks more promising than it did a month ago, and it is mostly due to Willis.

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