Bullitt East didn’t make it back to the Sweet Sixteen this season, but Kentucky signee Derek Willis was in Rupp Arena on Friday to pick up his 6th Region player of the year award.
Willis, wearing a blue UK shirt, talked to reporters after receiving the award and offered some predictions on the “Big Three” recruits still on John Calipari’s radar.
He was most confident about Julius Randle, who will announce his college decision March 20.
“I think Randle’s probably a lock,” Willis said. “That’s my opinion. He could do whatever, but I think he’ll come.”
Randle has narrowed his list to UK, Kansas, Texas and Florida.
Next up was Andrew Wiggins, and Willis is just as perplexed as everyone else by that recruitment.
“As far as Wiggins goes, I’ve tried to figure him out,” he said. “I’ve read everything about him. I’ve looked him up. I don’t know. I know UK is one of his top two choices, I would say.”
Willis had great things to say about Aaron Gordon, but he doesn’t think the San Jose, Calif., native will end up in Lexington.
“He’s on the West Coast, I’d say. I don’t think he’ll (go) that far away,” he said.
Willis was also watching Madison Central senior guard Dominique Hawkins, who scored 31 points and led the Indians to a thrilling victory over Holmes. Willis said the 6-foot-1 guard would be a good addition to UK’s class of 2013.
“He’s tough and real athletic, strong. If we added him to our recruiting class, it’d be a good pick-up, I think,” he said.
While he was talking, Calipari and UK assistant Orlando Antigua walked by, slapped him on the back and congratulated him on his award.
Next up for Willis will be the Derby Festival Classic at Freedom Hall in April. He’s hoping to enroll at UK for summer classes and wants to add 20-25 pounds to his current frame (he’s at about 200 right now).
Maybe his summer job can help him in that department. Willis said his girlfriend helped him get a part-time gig at the McAlister’s Deli in Fern Creek.
“I’ll be serving sandwiches to people for a little bit,” he said with a laugh.