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Derek Willis’ high school coach says Derek can be UK’s x-factor…if he works hard


The one glaring spot on UK’s roster right now is a big wing player. With no Jaylen Brown and various back-up options hovering on the horizon, it sure would be nice if a player on the current roster would step up and fill that void. Last year in the Bahamas, it looked like Derek Willis was ready to accept the challenge. After sitting behind two platoons, Derek will now have his shot, and his high school coach Troy Barr told’s Chris Fisher he thinks Derek is ready…but he’ll have to work for it.

“I think Derek is ready,” Barr told Tuesday. “He knows he can be a difference maker. He can make them a top five team if he plays well.”


The staff gave Derek a chance to assert himself in that platoons early last season, but even Derek admitted he had “fallen out with the game” and wasn’t putting in enough effort. With one more big chance ahead of him, Barr says it’s time.

“I think he’s got to amp up his work ethic. That’s the number one thing. If he does that, he’ll be a major contributor. He’s talented enough that if he puts in the work, people are going to be really happy with how he plays next year.”

Interesting stuff here, so go check it out on



Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

16 Comments for Derek Willis’ high school coach says Derek can be UK’s x-factor…if he works hard

  1. deWildcat
    1:20 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    I hope he’s the star and leading scorer.

  2. jrdh13
    1:39 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    obviously hes not as big and as good a rebounder as lyles but i kind of agree a 6’9 that can step out stretch people out he could really help us.. HE JUST HAS TO GUARD AND REBOUND

  3. Mc12
    1:40 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    Can he defend the 3? If so, he’ll have opportunities. If he can’t stay in front and is a liability, there will be a lot of 3 guard line-ups.

    If he beefed-up and got minutes at the 4 he could do well.

  4. sammydog
    1:44 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    He doesn’t seem to have a lot of drive or motivation.

  5. Time Expired
    1:56 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    If Willis could make a Jorts type of commitment then he would be a difference maker for the Cats.

  6. sckysportsink
    2:07 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    He seems to have a lot of skills on the offensive end of the court. He does need to step up his defense. I think he will and will be a big help this season. Go Cats!

  7. secrick
    2:18 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    He’s as good as Wiltjer and if he does the work then i think he can be that guy that helps.

    • ukbradstith
      3:43 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

      There’s a reason Witjer was a 5 star and now an all-American…he’s way better than Willis.

  8. UKBlue1
    2:22 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    The most important word in the article is “IF” !! If we are honestly having to rely on Willis or he could dictate our future, wow it’s going to be a long year. This blind expectations & loyalty to Willis just because he is a a kid from KY even though he has said he hasn’t tried, why in the world would you believe in someone who admits he isn’t trying? This kid going to be selling insurance in his future if he’s lucky.

    • itsUKnotUofK
      3:06 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink


    • secrick
      3:40 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

      So are most of the kids playing college basketball and there is nothing wrong with that.

    • Saul T. Nuts
      3:45 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

      I respectfully disagree that relying on Willis means it’s going to be a long year. I think everyone has seen his athleticism, his shooting ability, and his passing ability. He’s got solid skills, and I would say the same thing if he wasn’t from KY. To be honest, he reminds me of Scott Padgett, who we all know was a bench warmer as a freshman, but turned out to be a tremendous 3pt shooter and solid defender as he matured.

    • Chuck Norris
      5:36 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

      Did you ever sit the bench in high school or college athletics? It is hard to stay motivated and hungry when you know there’s little to no chance that you play, unless there are injuries or the game is a blowout. He’s 19 yrs old, and until Willis came to UK he’s always played in games instead of watching them. It’s been tough on him Nd was honest about it, but I’m sure he realizes that he needs to elevate his game to be a contributor. But way to judge a kid and tell him that he’ll be selling insurance, I’m sure that makes you feel good.

  9. ukbradstith
    3:48 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    If Willis is good offensively, he should play. He won’t be able to guard the three, but we have to mask that. Frank the Tank doesn’t even attempt to play D, somehow he was still valuable. Only one of Wisconsins guards could play any D (Jackson) yet they did okay. Willis is too slow and white to guard quick guys side to side, but good team defensive can mask that. Spurs have won a ton with guys that aren’t the best defenders but still contribute.

  10. Shawn
    4:08 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    Breaking News….any player can be the X factor If they work hard enough. That’s like saying you can drive from Lexington to Nashville If you put enough gas In your tank. Well duh. You are from Kentucky and play basketball for UK… shouldnt need anymore motivation. If you do then you’re probably playing the wrong game.

  11. Leuther
    7:41 pm May 6, 2015 Permalink

    Hope Willis’ HS Coach is right. Would love to see a Ky boy in the rotation…