Derek Willis

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Derek Willis
Derek Willis.jpg
BG Göttingen
Position Forward
League Basketball Bundesliga
Personal information
Born (1995-06-21) June 21, 1995 (age 23)
Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight 228 lb (103 kg)
Career information
High school Bullitt East
(Mount Washington, Kentucky)
College Kentucky (2013–2017)
NBA draft 2017 / Undrafted
Playing career 2017–present
Career history
2017–2018 Grand Rapids Drive
2018–present BG Göttingen

Derek Willis (born June 21, 1995) is an American basketball player for BG Göttingen of the Basketball Bundesliga. He played college basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Early life

Willis is one of a relatively small number of Native Americans who have played in NCAA Division I basketball. His mother is a member of three tribes—Southern Arapaho, Pawnee, and Muscogee. Although born in Louisville, Kentucky, he lived with his family for several years during his childhood on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. According to Fox Sports writer Reid Forgrave, "His favorite childhood memories are from that reservation." The family eventually returned to the Louisville area, settling in the suburb of Mount Washington.[1]

High school career

In his senior year at Bullitt East High School, Willis averaged 17.4 points and 9.4 rebounds a game. While at Bullitt East, he regularly traveled around the U.S. for both AAU basketball and Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments; according to his father, "Derek was the only kid in the nation who was nationally ranked in basketball and in Yu-Gi-Oh!"[1]

College career

Willis was the first player to commit to Kentucky’s 2013–14 recruiting class,[2] choosing UK over Indiana, Louisville and Purdue.[3] He appeared in 103 games over his four-year career with the Wildcats, turning in averages of 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest, while making 108 of his 271 shots taken from three-point territory in his college career. Willis won the SEC Tournament with the Wildcats in 2015, 2016 and 2017, advancing to the NCAA Final Four in 2015. He proposed to his girlfriend on senior night, prior to Kentucky's home game against Vanderbilt.[4]

In April 2017, he attended the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Portsmouth, Virginia.[5]

Professional career

Grand Rapids Drive (2017–2018)

After going undrafted, Willis was signed by the Detroit Pistons of the NBA as a part of their training camp roster,[6] before being reassigned to the Pistons' G League affiliate Grand Rapids Drive.[7] In his professional debut on November 3, 2017, he provided the game-winning tip-in in Grand Rapids' 86-85 victory over the Erie BayHawks.[8] Making 43 G League appearances (38 starts) as a first-year player, Willis averaged 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest.[9]

BG Göttingen (2018–present)

In late July 2018, Willis inked a deal with BG Göttingen of the German Basketball Bundesliga.[10]

International career

Willis was a member of the US team that competed at the 2012 Albert Schweitzer Tournament.[11] In February 2018, he was named to the USA squad for the 2019 World Cup qualifiers.[12]


  1. ^ a b Forgrave, Reid (March 15, 2016). "Kentucky's March X-factor Derek Willis is one unique guy". Fox Sports. Retrieved June 16, 2017. 
  2. ^ "On Calipari's Kentucky, Hawkins and Willis Are the Rare Senior Wildcats". Sports. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  3. ^ "Derek Willis picks Kentucky over Indiana, Louisville and Purdue". Inside the Hall | Indiana Hoosiers Basketball News, Recruiting and Analysis. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  4. ^ "Kentucky's Derek Willis proposes on Senior Night". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  5. ^ "Derek Willis concludes play at Portsmouth Invitational Tournament". 2017-04-17. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Pistons sign Udrih, Willis, Nnoko; announce camp roster". The Detroit News. September 25, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Kentucky Wildcats Derek Willis waived by Detroit Pistons". Retrieved 2017-11-04. 
  8. ^ Sentinel, Special to The. "Willis beats buzzer to give Drive season opening win". Holland Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-11-04. 
  9. ^ "Derek Willis - NBA G League". NBA G League. Retrieved 2018-07-30. 
  10. ^ "Derek Willis to play in Germany | Kentucky Sports Radio". Retrieved 2018-07-30. 
  11. ^ "US finishes seventh in Albert Schweitzer basketball tournament". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  12. ^ "Former Cats make USA Basketball roster for two televised World Cup qualifiers". kentucky. Retrieved 2018-02-28. 

External links

  • Kentucky Wildcats bio
  • Profile at
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