Kentucky Basketball: Derby Festival Classic - How The Wildcats Signees Did


The Derby Festival Classic was a chance to see two incoming players that Wildcats fans haven't had a chance to see for the first time this all-star season.

Having reviewed the tapes of the two high school all-star games this weekend that featured incoming Kentucky Wildcats players, I thought I would give you some observations to consider and discuss.

First, the Derby Festival Classic game, which featured only two Kentucky incoming freshmen, Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins. We'll talk about the Nike Hoop Summit in part two.

Derek Willis

Willis is very much better than I expected. He handles the ball very well for a 6'9" kid, almost as well as a guard. He reminds me of a skinny version of Terrence Jones when he has the ball, and Willis make a couple of high-fliying drives for dunks that really surprised me.

I was also very impressed by Willis' length. His arms are almost absurdly long, but he desperately needs to put on some weight, as he is quite thin. His long arms make him look almost emaciated. Putting on as much muscle as possible over the summer should be job one for him.

Willis is agile, handles the the rock great in the open floor and in traffic, and passes extremely well. Another thing I loved about is that he was always looking for open teammates rather than jacking up the open three that you always get in these sorts of games.

Willis is going to make an impact at Kentucky, but probably not for a year or two. Still, given his solid rebounding, good decision-making and surprising length and handle, I wouldn't be shocked to seem him on the floor once in a while next year. He's not at the level of the top players coming in, but he's much better than you might think given his 3-star rating.

Willis wound up with 6 points (two via dunks), four assists including an eye-popper to high-school teammate Rusty Troutman, and seven rebounds. He also blocked two shots.

Dominique Hawkins

Hawkins' main impact in the DFC was defensively, where he showed a lot of intensity. Hawkins did little to really stand out in the game, and I think that is partially because he is going to have to learn a new position. Still, He played fine, although the one three pointer I saw him take almost shattered the backboard.

Hawkins is the kind of talent that is going to need some seasoning, but he's going to give Andrew Harrison plenty of challenge in practice. I've seen Hawkins play in a couple of games, and in both cases, I saw a player that was a willing defender and an unselfish teammate. He's quite athletic and doesn't make a lot of errors, but he isn't going to stand out with his offensive ability.

Hawkins wound up with four points in a nondescript offensive effort, but he had a couple of steals and was much more impressive defensively

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