A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keith Taylor: Kentucky junior Derek Willis making a strong case to become a regular fixture in rotation

By Keith Taylor KyForward sports writer Derek Willis is making a strong case to become a part of Kentucky’s rotation this season. The Kentucky junior scored six points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out five assists in second-ranked Kentucky’s 111-58 exhibition win over Kentucky State Friday night. Kentucky’s Derek Willis, left, is doing the little things to earn more playing...

Finger injury sidelines UK forward Willis, will not participate in NBA open practice combine

Derek Willis is expected to return in time for UK’s Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 27 (UK Athletics Photo)   Kentucky men’s basketball junior forward Derek Willis will miss the next two weeks after suffering a finger injury on his left hand in Saturday’s practice. Willis is expected to return in time for UK’s Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 27.   “I’m happy that it’s not...

Calipari says he thought Cats would go 40-0, is excited about prospects for coming season

During a wide-ranging media availability Thursday, UK coach John Calipari said he expected his team to to 40-0 last year (UK Athletics Photo)   Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari met with the media on Thursday for a wide-ranging summer press conference. Calipari discussed his returning team, his newest additions, how the Wildcats may play next season and even declared for...

Ashley Scoby: Looks can really be deceiving when seldom-used reserve Willis is involved

Derek Willis drives on Pikeville during an exhibition game prior to the season (UK Athletics Photo)   An online search for tweets about Kentucky forward Derek Willis yields some interesting 140-character bombs.   “Kentucky won by enough to have Derek Willis play!” “Wasted talent.” “Derek Willis doesn’t even look happy that they just won.”   [widgets_on_pages id=“Ashley”] For...

Ashley Scoby: Opportunity knocks, Hawkins answers, but Willis still finds himself in limbo

Dominique Hawkins got a surprise start against Missouri, but despite Kentucky’s dominating win, John Calipari didn’t commit to the same lineup for Saturday’s game at Alabama (UK Athletics Photo)   Dominque Hawkins’ smile on Tuesday night was about as wide as Willie Cauley-Stein’s wingspan.   The sophomore guard from Richmond, Ky., had just had his third career start...

Aaron Harrison cements his legendary legacy as Kentucky advances to Monday’s title game

ARLINGTON, Texas — Few questions remain about this Kentucky team. The main one will be answered Monday—Can a bunch of freshmen win a national championship?—and in a way, the Wildcats’ legacy still has a lot on the line five-sixths of the way through what, to this point, may be the most idyllic run through the NCAA Tournament any team has ever dared. [widgets_on_pages id=”James”]   And...

Aaron Harrison cements his legendary legacy as Kentucky advances to Monday's title game

ARLINGTON, Texas — Few questions remain about this Kentucky team. The main one will be answered Monday—Can a bunch of freshmen win a national championship?—and in a way, the Wildcats’ legacy still has a lot on the line five-sixths of the way through what, to this point, may be the most idyllic run through the NCAA Tournament any team has ever dared. [widgets_on_pages id=”James”]   And...

Derek The Destroyer: Freshman reserve Willis has prepared Kentucky for Kaminsky

ARLINGTON, Texas — In an effort to prepare Kentucky for Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky in Saturday’s Final Four, John Calipari turned to his bench. Kaminsky is a difficult matchup because of his size and skill set, chronicled in-depth here, and he’s not like any player Kentucky has seen yet this season. [widgets_on_pages id=”James”]   Or have they?   Six-foot-nine freshman...

Is seldom-used reserve Derek Willis setting precedent with late-night shooting session?

Derek Willis, who has played a total of 30 minutes this season including six Saturday against Vanderbilt, has impressed John Calipari with his late-night shooting sessions. (Photo by James Pennington)   John Calipari’s job is to coach up his players and turn them into a cohesive one, a team with a singular vision and a singular approach to making the vision a reality. But he believes he...

Best of Fall 2013 in Sports: Air Raid returns, and Calipari's big freshmen debut at Rupp

To get you ready for 2014, we’re recapping the year that was in sports, and here is the second installment: fall 2013. New things, exciting things, were happening at Commonwealth Stadium with Mark Stoops’ debut and the return of the Air Raid offense to Kentucky football. But most of all, John Calipari’s incoming recruits dominated the fall headlines. Re-published below is a primer...

Best of Fall 2013 in Sports: Air Raid returns, and Calipari’s big freshmen debut at Rupp

To get you ready for 2014, we’re recapping the year that was in sports, and here is the second installment: fall 2013. New things, exciting things, were happening at Commonwealth Stadium with Mark Stoops’ debut and the return of the Air Raid offense to Kentucky football. But most of all, John Calipari’s incoming recruits dominated the fall headlines. Re-published below is a primer...

The Derek Willis Problem: How the freshman has given John Calipari yet another option

Derek Willis (Photo by Jon Hale)   John Calipari has a problem. It’s a good problem, mind you. This team has a lot of good problems, really. The most confounding of those problems, at least right now in this instant in which Kentucky still has not played against another team and revealed its team weaknesses, may have to do with Derek Willis. [widgets_on_pages id=”James”]   Again,...

Dominique Hawkins hopes to carry his state tournament success over to college career

When talking to UK freshman point guard Dominique Hawkins one of the first things you notice is his ever-present smile.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Since earning a scholarship offer from UK following a historic run to the Kentucky state high school championship with Madison Central in March, Hawkins has had plenty to smile about.   “I always wanted to play at Kentucky,”...

Dominique Hawkins hopes to carry his state tournament success over to college career

When talking to UK freshman point guard Dominique Hawkins one of the first things you notice is his ever-present smile.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Since earning a scholarship offer from UK following a historic run to the Kentucky state high school championship with Madison Central in March, Hawkins has had plenty to smile about.   “I always wanted to play at Kentucky,”...

Derek Willis not focused on rankings as he plays with more highly touted Wildcats

One might expect a Kentucky native—who grew up less than 100 miles west of Lexington—who signs to play basketball with UK would have grown up an avid Wildcat fan.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] That is not the case for UK freshman forward Derek Willis.   “I was a Louisville fan, but we rooted for anyone in Kentucky, anyone who represented the Commonwealth,” he said...

Derek Willis not focused on rankings as he plays with more highly touted Wildcats

One might expect a Kentucky native—who grew up less than 100 miles west of Lexington—who signs to play basketball with UK would have grown up an avid Wildcat fan.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] That is not the case for UK freshman forward Derek Willis.   “I was a Louisville fan, but we rooted for anyone in Kentucky, anyone who represented the Commonwealth,” he said...

Kentucky freshman Marcus Lee hopes
he can be a ‘sponge’ for John Calipari

When Marcus Lee chose to attend Kentucky, he expected to be challenged on the basketball court. He did not necessarily expect that challenge as a volleyball player.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Lee, who was a standout volleyball and basketball player at Deer Valley High School in the Bay Area, spent some time working out with the UK women’s volleyball team this summer.   “My...

Kentucky freshman Marcus Lee hopes he can be a 'sponge' for John Calipari

When Marcus Lee chose to attend Kentucky, he expected to be challenged on the basketball court. He did not necessarily expect that challenge as a volleyball player.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Lee, who was a standout volleyball and basketball player at Deer Valley High School in the Bay Area, spent some time working out with the UK women’s volleyball team this summer.   “My...

Record-setting basketball class willing to face competition for chance to win NCAA title

The UK freshman class includes an unprecedented six McDonald’s All-Americans. (Photos by Jon Hale)   John Calipari has never been shy about saying the UK men’s basketball program is not for every player.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] In Calipari’s four years as UK’s head coach, highly touted prospects have had to accept smaller roles and fewer shots per...

John Calipari Q&A: Coach breaks down freshmen, returners, last season and more

Each year before the start of the basketball season, UK head coach John Calipari sits down for a roundtable interview with local reporters in September.   The reporters agree to UK’s requirement to embargo the interviews, and subsequent one-on-one interviews with each player, until Oct. 1.   You can read a transcript of the entire interview with a rejuvenated Calipari below in which...