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By LARRY VAUGHT
Derek Willis went from a 6-9 rising star with outside shooting ability and ballhandling skills to a player some now consider a “throw-in” for UK’s recruiting class because his summer play before his senior season was not as good as some recruiting analysts expected.
“I played with a different summer team and for four weeks it was non-stop basketball. It wore me down. I don’t meant to make excuses, but I just never felt right,” Willis said.
Still, he estimates he’s asked “five or six times per day” about winning a national title at UK next year.
“Everybody talks about the recruiting class and winning No. 9 (national championship). I get a lot of stuff from Louisville fans wishing I had gone there. I am happy for them, but I am happy where I am,” Willis said.
He knows his future teammates will be, too, even though he thinks the six McDonald’s All-Americans really have no idea just how big Kentucky basketball is.
“I don’t think they really have a clue about what Kentucky basketball is all about,” Willis said. “They have visited here, but Dominique and I have grown up around it. You have to live here to know how the fans are for both teams (UK and Louisville) and how basketball is so big that you are treated like gods and expected to play that way.”