Derek Willis signs deal with Detroit Pistons, plan is to play in Grand Rapids

Derek Willis, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound power forward from the University of Kentucky has signed a one-year deal to play for the Detroit Pistons.

Those with knowledge of the signing believe that Willis will spend most of his time with the Grand Rapids Drive, the team’s affiliate in the NBA Gatorade League, after joining the parent club for training camp and the NBA preseason.

Willis spent four years playing for the Wildcats, a feat that seems heroic in today’s one-and-done nature of college basketball. After barely seeing himself in the lineup during his first two seasons playing for John Calipari, Willis surprised many by becoming an integral part of the offense, averaging 7.7 points and shooting 44.2% from behind the 3-point arc during the 2015-16 campaign. This past year, his senior season, Willis played in 38 games, averaging 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds. He ranks 12th in UK history with a 39.9% from 3-point range.

Teammate Dominique Hawkins told NBA.com, “He’s a shooter for us. He spreads out the floor, and we can’t win too many games without him. We need him to be able to shoot the ball and make shots for us.”

Vanderbilt Commodore’s head coach Bryce Drew added, “Willis does a good job of spreading the floor for them. You have to be aware where he is on the court, and you have to keep a man open close to him, which then opens up guys to drive and get to the rim. So, maybe even though his stats aren’t as high as some other guys, he’s a very significant part of their team.”

Willis should easily be able to put up numbers while in Beer City, USA. He’s an outside threat who will take the big shot. He’s also good on the boards and can be a shot blocker, but has to add weight and get better on the defensive end. New Drive head coach Robert Werdann is adept in coaching up big men.

You can follow him on Twitter: @derek_willis33.

Willis is also a supporter of the Progeria Research Foundation. You can donate to their cause here.

 

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Born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. Classically trained in rooting for the losers. Watched Isiah hobble off the court at The Palace, Barry walk away from the Fords and 119 losses for the Tigers. Passionate about our local pro sports franchises here in Beer City USA.