By LARRY VAUGHT
Derek Willis knows the spotlight is going to be on him even more this season after his off-season alcohol-related arrest, and he’s ready for that.
“It has just really been a learning experience. I understand I made a huge mistake. It’s just one of those things. I talk to everyone the same way. When I am out in public, I am not Derek Willis the UK basketball player. It’s just more understanding who I am,” said Willis.
He was charged with alcohol intoxication during the summer.
“I was just hanging out with friends and it turned into a situation I did not want it to turn into,” Willis said. “I learned my lesson. I am totally focused on basketball now. I don’t want to disappoint anyone.
“I feel like it was a huge letdown. I am not going to be involved in stuff like that again. I am just in the gym and going to school.
He had to tell the UK coaches hours after his arrest and release from jail. However, that was not that hardest part.
“Seeing how my parents were was one of the worst feelings,” Willis said.
He admitted he thought his mistake might end his UK career. He knew if it did, he had no one to blame but himself.
“Thankfully I am here now,” Willis said. “It is still a learning experience and will stay with me the rest of my life. Hopefully I will prove to people who I am. I have a great support system.”
He also knows there won’t be another chance if he makes a similar mistake again.
“If you don’t learn lesson off that, something is wrong with you,” Willis said. “A lot of t hings in my future are based on this year. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian, went through an incident. I just have to learn from it all.”