Kentucky Basketball: Former Wildcat, Derek Willis signs with Detroit Pistons

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images /

The Kentucky Basketball pipeline to the NBA isn’t just for one-and-done.

It was announced on Thursday afternoon that former Kentucky Basketball star, Derek Willis will be a Detroit Piston. Willis gets some wonderful news as the Big Blue Nation celebrates another beloved Wildcat making it to the NBA.

Derek Willis played at Kentucky for four seasons. When it comes to most of the big named stars out of Kentucky, most of them fall within the five-star rankings coming out of high school. Not Derek Willis. The Mt. Washington, Kentucky native earned his way onto the scene a little differently.

Willis worked to play his way into the lineup amongst high profile players from around the country. Derek played with some of the top players currently in the NBA. That includes Karl Anthony-Towns, Devin Booker, and Julius Randle among others. Although his career numbers aren’t spectacular, his presence on the court helped the Wildcats win on a nightly basis.

Willis is a fan favorite. That goes without saying since Kentucky Basketball fans hold a special place in their hearts for homegrown Wildcats.

The Detroit Pistons

Willis will most likely be headed to the Pistons’ G League affiliate of the Grand Rapids Drive according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Derek make his way to professional basketball. He may have the opportunity to join former Wildcat Ramon Harris in Grand Rapids. Harris was featured on the Drive’s roster last season.

Willis has the shooting touch and ability capable of playing in the NBA. His other set skills, however, just may be honed in the G League. A lot of former Wildcats have taken a similar route to the big league.

Also, Willis will get the opportunity to participate in the team’s training camp. Although he is a long shot to make the team he will gain valuable experience. In addition to the basketball aspect of the game, he will learn from true professionals on how to work and prepare for a grueling season.

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The Big Blue Nation is excited to see this new wave of Kentucky Basketball stars make their mark in the NBA. Although all Wildcats are created equal, Kentucky Basketball fans are rooting extra hard for Willis to make a strong impression. After spending the summer with the Pistons’ summer league squad, Derek Willis had to have turned some heads in the evaluation process. It doesn’t matter up to this point how it happened. The most important aspect of this deal is the fact that he gets a chance to chase his dreams. Good luck Derek!