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Kentucky signee Willis embarrassed by out of character ejection, apologized to team


Bullitt East coach Troy Barr says Kentucky signee 6-9 Derek Willis will be with the team Saturday when it plays in the Marshall County Hoop Fest even if he can’t play after being ejected from Monday’s win over Lafayette. He will also miss tonight’s game at Henry Clay in the Mr. Basketball Classic as part of his penalty after being ejected when he was hit with two technical fouls for protesting a call in the third quarter of Monday’s game. He had 14 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.

“He’ll be on the trip with us,” Barr said. “What happened was out of character for him. I think it was a culmination of last year and the first two scrimmages of this year and then Monday night he comes out the first four minutes with a mouth full of blood after taking an elbow to the mouth with no call. For any man, enough is enough. I am not making excuses for him. What he did was embarrassing. I am embarrassed for him, our school, the athletics department, our team.

“In another way, I understand his frustration. But there is a correct way and wrong way to do it. He chose the wrong way. Why work so hard in the weight room to put 15 pounds on and then do this? Put that punishment out there on the other team and don’t yell at an official.

“He is embarrassed. He has already apologized to the team. We will deal with the consequences. He has to sit out two games and then will have some consequences with us as well.”

It had already been a rough preseason for Willis, who signed with UK in November. After doing “some good things in open gym” he suffered a grade three ankle sprain.

“He missed the first three weeks of practice,” Barr said. “He’s not near where he’ll be the first of January. He’s only had 10 to 12 practices.”

Barr said his team will go to Marshall County Friday so it can watch Huntington (W.Va.) Prep and Andrew Wiggins play and also get a chance to see twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison of Texas, both UK signees, also play.

“It is a great event and we are excited to be part of it. We are excited to see Wiggins and the twins play. It’s fun to be part of it and see it and get to play as well,” Barr said. “Even without Derek, we have good players.”

Barr sees 6-5 Rusty Troutman, who had 32 points and seven rebounds Monday, as a Mr. Basketball candidate. Senior point guard Trey Rakes had 17 points and five assists Monday.

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  1. Kevin Veeley

    This is not a normal thing for the kid at all. His personality has always been pretty passive. He’s going to need this kind of passion to be the player he can be. Mark my word, he will be special in a few years. IF he can get aggressive with his play. I’m sure he had reason to be peev’d and he should NOT have reacted the way he did. But the fact that he did is so out of character for him and I’m not worried at all. Glad to see the kid display the passion and aggression which are the only two holes in his game.

    1. larryvaught

      With you Kevin. Seems like great kid to me. Going to talk to him Friday or Saturday

  2. Lauren Colwell

    The bad calls/no calls frustrate me. A mouth full of blood and no call, I understand Derek’s frustration. Hoping things change — it happens too often in high school basketball.

  3. Larry T Clemons

    He will Learn to channel that frustration into aggressive energy on the Court…and use it to Dominate. He a large, strong young man, the sleeping giant inside could be awakening, ” watch out “…

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