Now, the 6-8, 220-pound Mississippi native is back on the board and has stated a desire to leave his home state.
Willis failed to qualify at Southern Miss and will do a year at Hargrave Military Academy (Va.). He has attracted interest from some big-time schools, but according to Willis' father, a few have already come to the forefront.
"I know he wants to take a trip to USC, Michigan State, N.C. State and Cincinnati," Wallace Willis said. "We want to narrow it down soon."
Virginia was also mentioned by Emanuel Willis.
"It's not about just being a big-name school," added the elder Willis. ``It's about which program is the best fit for him. He doesn't have to go right in and start. He just wants to get better and get some playing time."
Willis hasn't set up any official visits yet, but he said that his first will be on the west coast to USC. The Wolfpack staff will take a trip to Hargrave to meet with him on Friday.
The Kenyon Martin-type has dramatically improved his perimeter game, which is one reason why numerous high-majors have begun to show significant interest.
"The thing I like about him is his ability to score inside," Hargrave coach Kevin Keatts said. "He's also good enough to score on the perimeter. He's a student of the game and absorbs everything."
"A year ago, he was labeled as just a great athlete," added Keatts. "He's a lot better than everyone expected and if he'd had played a few more events in the summer, he'd be a Top 50 kid."
Keatts said he will work with Willis to continue to improve his perimeter and ball-handling skills so that wherever he chooses, he can become a legitimate combo forward.
"So far, everything has been going well," Emanuel Willis said. "We've been working out and I've probably gained about 10 pounds since I've been here."
"Coach (Keatts) said I probably won't take any visits until mid-October, but I like N.C. State a while lot and will almost definitely take a visit there."