Kentucky landed its first Class of 2013 recruit when Derek Willis, who's No. 42 in the ESPNU 60 and No. 10-ranked PF, committed to the Wildcats on Friday.
The 6-foot-9, 210-pound junior from Mount Washington (Ky.) Bullitt East picked coach John Calipari and the Cats over Indiana, Louisville and Purdue, where he was once committed.
"Kentucky was the best fit for me. I like UK, Coach Cal and the staff. This is where the best players in the country go," he said. "As for the Purdue commitment I just got caught up in the moment and it was my first offer."
Willis is long and very skilled. He has the ability to make a play off the dribble and stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting range. He is very effective facing up defenders and his upside is tremendous.
"His size, skill set and length is what makes him special," Bullitt East coach Troy Barr said. "He handles the ball and shoots well but he is also a great passer. When he gets to Lexington and is pushed by those other great players every day, his game will get even better. As a person, Derek is a great kid, very humble and unselfish for a highly-ranked kid."
Willis, the No. 1 junior in Kentucky, will excel in the Wildcats' system. He is a good enough athlete to score by running the floor on the break and spotting up for those dribble-drive kickouts. He can pick and pop for jumpers or attack a bad closeout off the dribble. He also has the length to defend inside and out, and rebound in and out of his area.
"My strength is my ability to shoot the ball off the catch or dribble and I like to make plays off the dribble," Willis said. "I mostly need to work on getting stronger."
Willis will be a great complement for many of the current Kentucky players because he will be able to open driving lanes for teammates with his ability to hit the perimeter shot.
"I hope to be able to play multiple positions and do anything to benefit the team," he said.