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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Senior Night Ready

Get to know more about the three Wildcat seniors before Tuesday’s game.

Derek Willis dunking against UCLA in 2015.
Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats will recognize three seniors Tuesday during their last home game of the season. The Cats will honor Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder. Vanderbilt will be the opposing team and tip-off is set for 9 P.M. EDT.

Willis has been with the team for four years, joining Kentucky in 2013. He was the 41st best power forward in the nation and best overall player in the state of Kentucky as a high school senior. Willis graduated from Bullitt East High School in Mount Washington, KY. In his junior and senior years at Kentucky, combined, he has averaged 7.3 PPG & 4.3 RPG.

As a freshman and sophomore, he was heavily shadowed by big-man recruits Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns. Willis came on to the scene last year as a key contributor after he drastically improved his 3-point shooting.

Kentucky v Michigan Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Hawkins was in the same class as Willis, also joining the team in 2013. He was the 55th best point guard in the nation and third best overall player in the state. Hawkins graduated from Madison Central High School in Richmond, KY.

He was named Mr. Kentucky Basketball his senior year after leading his team to the state championship. Hawkins has also been overshadowed by guards Andrew & Aaron Harrison, as well Tyler Ulis & Isaiah Briscoe. Hawkins has however accepted a team player role and has always answered the bell when called upon by head coach John Calipari. He has averaged 1.9 PPG & 1 RPG as a defensive stopper for the Wildcats.

The senior had one of his best games in the blue & white jersey for Kentucky on Saturday, taking the role of PG at halftime and leading the Wildcats to a 76-66 win over rival Florida.

Mississippi State v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Mulder has only been with the team for two seasons, transferring in 2015 from Vincennes University. He was considered a top-10 prospect in Canada coming out of high school. While Mulder’s transfer received some hype as fellow Canadian Jamal Murray joined Kentucky the same season, Murray was the far better talent and took the spotlight.

Mulder found himself coming off the bench during the 2015-2016 season, scoring just 12 points in only 90 minutes of action. In 2016, however, Mulder has severely increased his production. He’s played nearly 4x as many minutes (270) and scored 11x as many points (133).

Mulder received his first career start Saturday after PG De’Aaron Fox was announced out with a knee injury. Though he shot just 1-6 for 4 points, Mulder held true on defense against Florida’s Devin Robinson. He limited Robinson to 3-13 shooting and only 9 points.

Post-senior night, Kentucky will make it’s final travel of the regular season to Texas A&M on Saturday. Tip-off has been set for 12 P.M. EDT. Following their win over Florida, Kentucky has claimed a 1-game lead in the SEC standings. With two games to go, the Wildcats will control their own destiny for seeding in the SEC Tournament.