Kentucky Basketball: UK Commit Derek Willis Is Stronger After Successful Summer

Jon HancockSenior Analyst ISeptember 19, 2012

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Derek Willis, who committed to the University of Kentucky in January, had a very good summer playing with the Louisville Magic AAU squad.The Louisville Magic won a couple of tournaments this summer and has become one of the premier teams on the AAU circuit. 

The 6'9" power forward had originally committed to Purdue early in his junior year of high school. After Willis decommitted, Louisville, Indiana and Kentucky all made a strong push for the talented big man.

Willis was ranked one of the the top 50 players in the 2013 class before committing to Kentucky. Since his commitment, Willis has fallen in rankings. Willis is currently ranked the 126th-best player in the 2013 class by

"I don’t think rankings determine what kind of a player you are", Willis told the Courier Journal in May. "So I don’t worry about it."

The future Wildcat helped lead Bullitt East High School to the Kentucky High School Sweet 16 last season. He has spent the off-season getting stronger and  becoming a better all-around player.

"He has put on weight and is much stronger than last year," Willis' high school coach Troy Barr said. "He is driving the ball much more aggressively now."

"He still needs to put on 20 more pounds and improve his perimeter defense before getting to Kentucky," Barr added.

Willis averaged 17.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks last season for Bullitt East. He is considered the favorite to win Kentucky's Mr. Basketball this season.

"He is a soft spoken teammate," Coach Barr said. "He leads by example and does everything possible for us to win games."

John Calipari and the UK coaching staff still keep in close contact with Willis, who is Kentucky's only 2013 commit. Willis made a visit to Lexington earlier this month.

Jon Hancock is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.