2013 star Derek Willis visits Louisville

Shortly after de-commiting from Purdue, 2013 Bullitt East star Derek Willis, a Scout.com Top 50 prospect, paid a visit to Rick Pitino's program at Louisville.

Bullitt East star Derek Willis paid a visit to Louisville Monday, just one day after publicly backing out of his verbal commitment to Purdue.

Willis, a 6-foot-9 forward in the Class of 2013, committed to the Boilermakers last spring shortly after leading Bullitt East to the Kentucky Sweet 16.

After an outstanding July boosted his recruiting stock nationally, Willis decided to re-open his recruitment and explore other options. Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana have quickly tried to jump into the mix with the Scout.com Top 50 prospect.

Willis' first big move following his de-commitment, however, was a visit to hometown Louisville to watch Rick Pitino's team practice for their upcoming trip to the Bahamas this week.

"Coach Pitino called me last night and he told me they were going to have individual workouts today and they would like Derek to come and see how he works with the guys and then he wanted him to watch the scrimmage," Del Willis said. "A real good friend of mine, Robbie Hall, who is actually a UK fan, took him down there. When a UK fan takes a kid on a UofL visit and has nothing but good things to say that looks pretty good. He was very impressed with staff, facilities, everything."

After the visit, Derek told his father he was impressed with Pitino's program.

"He was real impressed," Willis said. "He said it was a real nice visit. It sounds like Louisville is going to recruit him. As far as I know they didn't offer him today, but they're definitely going to keep an eye on him and recruit him. That's good."

Now that he's back on the board, Willis made clear his son has interest in both in-state programs.

"Louisville is the closest Division 1 school to where we live so you have to have some interest there," Willis said. "With Kentucky only being an hour or so away there's some interest there. Both programs are great."

Willis, though, made no bones about the fact that he roots for the Cardinals when the two sides meet on the court.

"The only time I cheer against Kentucky is when they play Louisville," Willis admitted. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Louisville has been my team since I was a kid. I remember selling t-shirts when they won the 1980 championship when I was a 16 year old kid."

Willis also said he likes Kentucky, and one of the Wildcats assistants placed a call to Willis following his de-commitment, though the two sides didn't connect. "I'll try to touch base with them one day this week and see what their interest is," Willis said.

Though the process of re-opening his recruitment has been stressful, Willis believes his son has learned a lot from the experience.

"It's all about growing up and learning from the experiences and I think Derek is doing that," Willis said. "Once he gets stronger and more confident I think he'll be a different player this year. He's young. He'll finish up his freshman year still 18 years old."

A skilled forward, Willis, a four-star recruit, possesses guard skills. Though he needs to add strength to his frame, Willis has three-point range, is a solid ball handler and passer, and a willing rebounder.

"His upside potential, I think, he could have a great career at any Division 1 school," Willis said. "I've told him how hard he works the next two years will tell if he goes in as a freshman and gets quality minutes or sits on the bench and watches games."

Willis said his son plans to make some official visits next year before making another commitment.

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