There’s no denying it: Derek Willis has been on a roll the past three games, averaging 10.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 32 minutes. His play may have been the only good thing about Kentucky’s loss at Auburn and carried over in wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt. His teammates have taken notice.
“I like it. Derek, he’s been balling,” Isaiah Briscoe said in today’s media opportunity. “Blocking shots, rebounding, running in transition, making shots. Everything he’s known how to do.”
As Willis has surged, fellow forward Marcus Lee has regressed. Lee looked a little better vs. Vanderbilt, but is clearly still struggling through a slump; however, he told reporters he’s very happy Derek’s stepped up in his place.
“Actually, I love that Derek is playing well. When we first started when we had a couple of bigs in, it took a toll on me and Alex (Poythress), especially because we were the only bigs doing a lot. So now we have Derek coming in and he’s doing really great the last couple of games. So it helps all of us out.”
It’s great to see that attitude from Marcus, who says he’s definitely noticed a change in Derek in practice.
“Yeah, I definitely see a little change in Derek. I think he’s just mentally more ready to take advantage of everything, and since it’s right there, he’s being more aggressive offensively, more aggressive on defense. He’s feeling very confident right now.”
Meanwhile, Marcus admitted it’s been a “rough couple of weeks” for him personally. Here’s hoping he gets back on track tomorrow night.