Rick Pitino's program is expected to host a long list of prospects this weekend for the start of preseason practice, and two of the most noteworthy are Derek Willis, the No. 8 power forward in his class, and Malik Price-Martin, the No. 14 power forward in the 2013 class.
Willis, a 6'9 standout from Mount Washington (KY) Bullitt East, was expected to attend Kentucky's midnight madness, but will visit Louisville instead.
"Derek will be there Friday with his mom and little sister," Derek's dad, Del Willis, said. "He decided he'd rather go to UofL and watch their scrimmage."
What prompted the change of visit plans for Willis?
"I tried to get him to understand that UK only has a month to get some kids in line to sign with that 2012 class – they only have one commitment," Willis said. "So I said Derek, ‘that's their main focus. They've got a year and half to worry about you.' They're going to lose a lot off this team so they need to have a big 2012 class."
Willis has a big recruiting weekend planned as he also plans to visit Purdue and Indiana on Saturday. Willis originally committed to Purdue, but re-opened his recruitment this summer. Indiana coach Tom Crean has been recruiting Willis hard, and Willis likes the Hoosiers, "coaching staff and facilities," according to Del Willis.
Even though Louisville, Indiana, Kentucky and Purdue are solid options on Willis' list, the four-star forward isn't planning to make a decision any time soon.
"Derek's going to wait for a while, at the least until the end of his basketball season if not until next fall," Willis said. "He's in no hurry to make any decisions. I told him if there's a school not willing to wait for him it just wasn't meant to be."
After helping Bullitt East reach the Kentucky Sweet Sixteen as a sophomore, leading the Chargers in rebounding, blocks and three-pointers, Willis, a Top 35 prospect nationally, appears poised for a breakthrough junior campaign.
"He's put on a little bit more muscle and I think he's going to be a little more focused this year," Willis said. "He realizes he's got more on his shoulders this year and he has to step up and be more of a leader and help the team win."
NOTE: Tuesday night, Kentucky coach John Calipari, assistant Orlando Antiqua and West Virginia assistant Larry Hairston attended an open gym at Bullitt East to watch Willis workout.