By LARRY VAUGHT
When all the rumors surfaced that freshman Derek Willis might be contemplating a transfer from Kentucky, his former high school coach at Bullitt East quickly denied it.
“I watched his body language on the bench and just like any freshman, if you are not a superstar like you were on your high school team you have to bide your time,” said Troy Barr. “His body language may not have been the greatest all the time, but during the NCAA it was obvious he was having a lot of fun seeing his teammates have success. In many cases, he was the first guy standing up and running out to greet them.”
Willis and his family both denied the transfer rumors, and there’s been no indication that he ever planned to leave UK. In fact, Willis said he had no regrets about not being redshirted last season despite playing just 39 minutes in the 14 games he played.
“No, I have no regrets over not redshirting. This has been a good learning experience,” Willis said at the Final Four. “I didn’t want to waste a year being a redshirt and just going to school. I might as well travel with the team and pick up what I can.
“Actually, just learning the plays and common stuff was not as easy as some think. Just getting used to a new system takes time. I have been working on my shot. Back in high school I would shoot it really flat and now I am trying to get more loft under it, so that’s one big way this season helped me.
“I have learned a lot academically and athletically. It has been a good learning experience and next year I will be ready to play a lot, lot more hopefully.”