Tag Archive: Derek Willis

Derek Willis “puts his heart into everything he does” — including Pilates

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)
Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Keely Potts insists that Kentucky senior Derek Willis has a lot more personality than fans or media members see when he’s being interviewed.

“He has a personality but you don’t really see it. Behind closed doors he won’t shut up,” said Potts, Willis’ girlfriend.

Certainly not when they have their “boxing” matches.

“We hit a punching bag at boxing and then have Soc-em boxers. It gets a little crazy. I feel like I am playing with my dad when I was little. It’s like going back in time. It’s not a legit fight, but we both get into it pretty good,” Potts said.

Willis’ girlfriend helped him regain basketball confidence

Keely Potts (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)
Keely Potts (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Keely Potts (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Sometimes the best Kentucky stories I do are about what an athlete does off the court or field. I like telling behind the scenes story.

That’s why I liked writing about Keely Potts finding a way to help her boyfriend, UK junior Derek Willis, regain his confidence during the basketball season.

It’s my most recent story on lex18.com and one I hope you will check out and enjoy. I will have more with Keely on her insights into Willis, who could be a huge key for UK next season, coming up soon.

What is it like to play for Kentucky?

Vicky Graff Photo
Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Q. If you guys could describe a little bit what it is like to play for Kentucky. From what I understand, it’s probably every other team’s biggest game. How has that prepared you for a huge game such as this even though it’s just the second round of the tournament?
DEREK WILLIS: I mean, I feel like for our college basketball program we put up with a lot day-to-day, we deal with fans, signing autographs, taking pictures and I don’t feel like other college programs do. Also when we go to away games, it’s a Super Bowl game for them, free T-shirt day, everything. So I don’t know, I feel like we’re accustomed to it now and it’s expected when you come here.

Calipari wants all players to have same defensive bounce as Tyler Ulis

Vicky Graff Photo
Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky’s defense had some issues in SEC Tournament wins over Georgia and Texas A&M. However, Kentucky coach John Calipari said part of it was that both teams made some “ridiculously tough” shots.

“You gotta accept it if you did their job and they hit it. We broke down about four times, maybe five, and it was basically the same couple guys that just broke down. Like, ‘It was you again. It was you again. It was you again,'” Calipari said.

Derek Willis thinks title game will be fun

Derek block
Derek block

Derek Willis blocked four shots Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — The last time Kentucky played Texas A&M, Derek Willis was on a roll going into the game and came out of the game with a sprained ankle.

Willis is back playing and had 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in Saturday’s 93-80 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Now he gets a chance to play against Texas A&M again in Sunday’s SEC title game.

Derek Willis will play against LSU

By LARRY VAUGHT

He likely will not start, but Kentucky junior forward Derek Willis apparently will play against LSU Saturday.

Willis has been out since spraining his ankle at Texas A&M two weeks ago.

“I don’t think I’ll start him. I might. You know me. I don’t really care. But I doubt if I start him. But it was great yesterday having him out there (in practice),” said Kentucky coach John Calipari Friday.

Calipari still not saying if Willis will play Saturday

Derek Willis watched from the bench again Tuesday. (Vicky Graff Photo)
Derek Willis watched from the bench again Tuesday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Willis watched from the bench again Tuesday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky closes the regular season Saturday by hosting LSU and might have junior forward Derek Willis back then.

He sprained his ankle during UK’s overtime loss at Texas A&M and has not played in the last three games. He did dress and warm up with the team Tuesday night at Florida, but he did not play even though media members there reported that he looked more mobile during his time on the court before the game.

Florida coach on UK frontcourt: “Long, athletic, versatile.”

Skal Labissiere (Vicky Graff Photo)
Skal Labissiere (Vicky Graff Photo)

Skal Labissiere (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky fans might be stunned to hear Florida coach Mike White, who has done a terrific job this year, describe Kentucky’s frontcourt.

I asked him Monday on the SEC coaches teleconference what he thought of the frontcourt at Kentucky. Here is what he said:

“Long, athletic, versatile I guess in terms of how different they are. They complement each other well of course. (Derek) Willis is just so different from (Alex) Poythress, who is just so different from Skal (Labissiere), who is so different from (Isaac) Humphries. They’re just very good,” White said.

Tyler Ulis insists legs are “good” despite off-shooting game

John Calipari says Derek Willis, left, won't play at Florida tonight. Without him, Tyler Ulis says UK has a hard time spreading the defense. (Vicky Graff Photo)
John Calipari says Derek Willis, left, won't play at Florida tonight. Without him, Tyler Ulis says UK has a hard time spreading the defense. (Vicky Graff Photo)

John Calipari says Derek Willis, left, won’t play at Florida tonight. Without him, Tyler Ulis says UK has a hard time spreading the defense. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Ulis saw nothing coming to make him anticipate he would miss 15 of 20 shots at Vanderbilt like he did Saturday.

“It happened and I just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Stay in the gym and keep playing,” he said Monday.

He’s played 34 or more minutes in nine straight games, including all 45 minutes in overtime losses at Kansas and Texas A&M. Even coach John Calipari has worried if he might be wearing down.

Saturday’s loss makes Calipari wonder if some players can ring NCAA bell

Marcus Lee was UK's only big that made a significant contribution in Saturday's loss. (Vicky Graff Photo)
Marcus Lee was UK's only big that made a significant contribution in Saturday's loss. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Marcus Lee was UK’s only big that made a significant contribution in Saturday’s loss. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

With just one week left in the regular season, John Calipari still has a big concern that he has had since day one with his team.

When play gets rough, the Cats back down.

That’s what happened at Vanderbilt Saturday when Kentucky lost 74-62 despite getting 33 points from Jamal Murray.

Kentucky’s bigs other than Marcus Lee were non-existent. Lee had nine points, six rebounds and three blocked shots but Isaac Humphries and Skal Labissiere did not score and had only two rebounds in 22 minutes.