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Derek Willis Thanks Derek Willis


Tonight Derek Willis played his last basketball game for the University of Kentucky.  In his four years at UK, the Bullitt County native become a beloved figure for fans.  Throughout his up-and-down career, one man got to see it from a unique perspective.

Derek Willis, a journalist for ProPublica, was often mistaken for the basketball player by Kentucky fans.  @DerekWillis received many of the messages meant for @Derek_Willis33.  After the basketball player’s career ended, the journalist thanked the forward for taking him on a remarkable ride.

For past 4 years I’ve been occasionally mistaken on Twitter for , a Kentucky basketball player with the same name. I’ve always been a huge college basketball fan & I knew about UK’s standing among great programs. I knew nothing about , though.

At first I was kinda annoyed; this kid with my name hadn’t played a college game & he was already stealing my Google SEO. I get it: basketball recruiting is huge & UK basketball is even bigger. But hey, I’ve been on the Web since 1995. This was my turf!

Once started getting playing time, I started getting tweets. Not always praise, but more than I would have thought. He was a raw talent – tall, skinny, liked to shoot the 3 – and I figured he might just be a role player on a very talented team. Which is why I was stunned by the reaction of , the Kentucky fanbase.

Y’all were unbelievably nice, esp when I started to respond. When I say “nice” I mean nice on Twitter. Think about that. They had no reason at all to be nice. I was intruding into their space.  People who were nasty mostly didn’t use his (or my) twitter handle, which I guess is a blessing. He’s a college senior, after all.  College kids do dumb things. I did. The least of them happen on the basketball court, in my experience, even in the NCAA Tournament.

Yes, got the chance of a young lifetime to play UK basketball. But he’s got a lifetime ahead. has his back. And even though we’ve never met, I want to thank for being a good sport & for allowing me a glimpse of .  It has been maybe the weirdest fun time I’ve had online & I won’t forget it. Good luck to you & , and thanks.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

15 Comments for Derek Willis Thanks Derek Willis

  1. Kray502
    8:33 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

    Thanks Derek Willis, for running down the court and not picking up a man, resulting in the game winning 3.

    • catsarerunnin
      9:15 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink


    • Squall Leonhart
      10:17 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

      Good grief you trolls have no class to show up here at a time like this and hurl your trash. Go away, Kray502 – just go away. You can gloat about Kentucky being defeated another time – don’t attack a human being in a time of heartbreak. That’s just messed up.

  2. Cmart0907
    8:37 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

    Thanks Derek Willis. Still trying to understand why call put him back in the game when Issac just had the game of his life! Just horrible coaching.

    • blackmilk23
      8:50 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

      We all are trying to figure that out.

      But thanks for his contributions over his 4 years. Hopefully his dreams of going pro workout. He’s a perfect European player if he wants to go that route.

    • Cmart0907
      8:54 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

      Jesus Christ. Things Cal do doesn’t make any sense to anyone

  3. BigBlueMeade
    8:42 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

    Would not have been in that game without him. He messed up, get over yourselves. He’s a young guy and loves this program. The least you could do is thank him for giving four years to this program and sitting to the side, waiting for a chance to be a big time player. Ungrateful.

  4. Tej
    8:43 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

    In the last seconds of that game it looked to be another player guarding Maye.

    criticizing a 20 or 21 year old kid who gives his all in the game is really classy.

  5. catsarerunnin
    9:17 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

    Thanks Derek for your hard work and determination.

  6. Curtis Lowe
    9:22 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

    Some of you assclowns are pathetic. Thanks Derek. Its been a pleasure to watch you the last 4 yrs….Good luck with your marriage and career!

    • Squall Leonhart
      10:20 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

      It’s just one to start us off. Nasty people exist.
      One of the things so disappointing about the loss to virtually all of BBN is that it had to be Derek’s last game…we wanted him to watch him play 2 more games.

  7. Bozferatu
    10:59 pm March 26, 2017 Permalink

    Bullitt East grad here. Derek will be missed, the last two years of Bullitt county jokes have made me love BBN even more than I thought possible. Troy Barr produced one heck of a recruit, and UK molded him into one heck of a ball player. Wish him luck on whatever his next step is. Hopefully one day Bullitt county will produce another UK worthy recruit, I’ll miss you Derek good luck from one Bullitt County boy to another.

  8. 4everblue
    5:56 am March 27, 2017 Permalink

    Derek played well down the stretch and will be missed. I hope the players are smart enough not to read some of these dumbass posts I see on here by all the fair weather fans.

  9. Beavis
    6:03 am March 27, 2017 Permalink

    On the last play Willis did exactly what he was supposed to do, stop the guy with the ball.

  10. BluKudzu
    1:30 pm March 27, 2017 Permalink

    Very cool post.

    I understand how it is, as I am frequently mistaken for Brad Pitt. Not really. Not ever.

    For the Ass Hats that criticise any player on the floor, STFU, grow up, and get a life. You would never be on a court in a college game like this against the best talent and coaching the NCAA has to offer. You have no right to cast a stone, when you can’t even pick one up
    Derek Willis, Thank you. Thank you for staying and playing such a great roll for UK. You will be missed, and loved by the BBN.