Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins aren’t McDonald’s All-Americans, but they definitely aren’t intimidated by them.
The two in-state stars are the only members of UK’s eight-man recruiting class who haven’t played on national television this month. The other six appeared in the McDonald’s Game in Chicago and the Jordan Classic in Brooklyn.
Both Willis and Hawkins acknowledged Wednesday that they might be overlooked going into next season. They’re taking a bring-it-on-approach to their first year with the Wildcats.
“We’re going to be a bulls-eye,” Hawkins said. “Everybody’s going to want to whup on us. It’s like whupping on your little brother, because we’re so young. Everybody’s going to want to beat us down, but we’re just going to have to come every day with our 110-percent game.”
Willis said he was looking forward to playing against all of his future teammates, but later singled out one player in particular.
“Julius Randle, for me. That’s who I want to play against,” Willis said. “He’s physical. He’s going to make you better, and he’s mean. I’ve seen him play.”
Hawkins has not only seen Andrew and Aaron Harrison in action, but played in a game against them. The Madison Central guard scored 29 points in a loss to the twins back in December.
Those are the two players he’s looking forward to facing every day in practice.
“They’re going to definitely make me better,” Hawkins said. “Whatever they do, they probably can improve my game. I know they’re probably better than me, but I can learn from them. … They’re the best 1 guard and 2 guard in the game, and you definitely can learn from the best.”
Willis and Hawkins will be teammates Friday night in the Derby Festival Classic in Freedom Hall.