Derek Willis Named MVP of West Team in Reese’s College All-Star Game Friday
PHOENIX – Awarded one final college game after a tremendous college career, Kentucky men’s basketball senior Derek Willis (pictured) made the most of the of the opportunity Friday, March 31 with a solid performance in the Reese’s College All-Star Game.
Willis recorded 13 points, a team-high eight rebounds, a block and a steal for the West Team in 21 minutes at the University of Phoenix Stadium, site of this year’s Final Four. Willis made 6 of 11 shots and was named the Reese’s Perfect Player from the West.
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The East defeated the West 121-90 in the annual all-star game.
The Reese's College All-Star Game, hosted by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, annually features 20 of the top seniors in college basketball and is one of the featured events leading up to the games at the Final Four.
Willis’ participation marked the first time the game has featured a UK player since its inception in 2009.
Willis finished his Kentucky career with 555 points scored, 354 rebounds and 108 3-point field goals made. His career 3-point field-goal percentage (.3985) ranks 12th among the school’s all-time leaders.
The senior from Mt. Washington, Kentucky, was a member of four NCAA Tournament teams, three Southeastern Conference regular-season championships, three SEC Tournament titles and two Final Four appearances.
Willis played an integral role in each of the last two seasons during limited minutes in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He averaged 7.7 points and led the team in 3-point field goal percentage with a .442 clip during his junior season. He led the SEC in 3-point field-goal percentage a year ago during conference play.
In his senior season, Willis notched career highs in points (267), rebounds (205), blocks (39), assists (34) and steals (25). He was a central figure in UK’s late-season defensive improvement, totaling 18 blocks over the last nine games after recording 21 in the previous 29. He averaged 5.4 rebounds on the season, including 7.3 over the last 12 games.
Among Willis’ career highlights is a 25-point performance with a career-high seven 3-pointers vs. Tennessee last season. He came up big during UK’s run to the Elite Eight, averaging 7.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught