Let's talk a little bit about local product Derek Willis. The 2013 power forward is a highly regarded prospect, playing his high school ball for Bullitt East in Mt. Washington, Kentucky. In the class of 2013, he's ranked as a high four star: 33rd overall by Scout, 23rd by Rivals, and 42nd by ESPNU.
Willis committed to Purdue in his sophomore year but decommitted this past August. He quickly opened up his recruitment to three nearby schools--Kentucky, Louisville, and Indiana--while keeping the Boilermakers on his list. After already committing once, it wouldn't have been surprising to see Willis take his time in making another decision. However, after a flurry of unofficial visits this past fall, Willis appears ready to commit.
Multiple sources, including the Courier-Journal, have reported that Willis is set to announce his decision on Friday. Larry Vaught caught up with Willis' father, Delbert Willis, who talked about his son's impending announcement (after the jump).
"It was more of a surprise to me that he decided to do this now, but this had been weighing on him the last month and was starting to affect him on the court. He feels pretty comfortable and confident he is making the right decision. He also doesn’t want to let other schools keep recruiting him and wasting their time when they could use their time and resources toward another recruit.
I just want him to be clear there will be no more de-commitments. We have been through that and are not going to do it again. I told him I am 100 percent behind him and love him and want him to be happy, but I want him firm with this decision and he is. He is standing by it once he announces it."
According to Mr. Willis, Derek and his family spent a couple of hours consulting with Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr to ensure that everyone was on the same page in Willis' commitment. Based on the public coverage, it appears Willis has been very thorough and mature about his recruiting process.
In his article, Vaught goes on to make a bold prediction:
But if Willis picks Kentucky — and I think he will — the comparisons to [Kyle] Wiltjer will really pick up along with the fan attention.
That's a big shift from sentiment earlier this fall, when Willis' unofficial visits to Bloomington and Louisville had Hoosier and Cardinal fans excited about the prospect of landing the talented big man. It would also be a paradigm shift in Kentucky head coach John Calipari's recruiting philosophy. Calipari doesn't normally seek commitments from prospects prior to their senior seasons, with notable exceptions like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.
If Kentucky were to secure a commitment from Willis, the Wildcats would be getting a fundamentally sound, offensively skilled big man. And with both Darius Miller and Jon Hood set to depart the program this year and next, respectively, Willis would also inject some local flavor into the Kentucky program.
Regardless of which program Willis picks, he'll be a heck of a pickup for one lucky head coach and hopefully go on to represent the state of Kentucky well.