Willis says Calipari helped him “turn my life around”

Derek Willis (Jeff Houchin Photo)


Derek Willis has not always seen eye to eye with Kentucky coach John Calipari and often has been the target of public criticism from the UK coach.

At times, Willis has had incredible games and moments. However, Calipari has always had a short leash on his playing time and constantly questioned his defense.

So with Willis getting set for his Senior Night game tonight against Vanderbilt, it might surprise you how Willis will remember Calipari.

“I’ll always remember him. I’ll always remember this place, the fans and everything. I feel like he definitely has helped me turn my life around in a sense,” Willis said Monday. “I feel like I wouldn’t focus on certain things I needed to focus on.

“At times he was forceful with stuff like the stuff he’s implemented, having curfew, keeping you around the gym, different stuff like that, keeping you in school, making sure you’re going to class and all that stuff. It’s kind of like a father figure away from home.

“Also, Mike Stone, our academic adviser, has kind of been that guy as far as getting my education. He’s always been on me about stuff. They definitely have helped me along the way, definitely helped me grow up.”

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