Derek Willis

Former Bullitt East Charger and Kentucky Wildcat Derek Willis is moving from Germany to Italy in pursuit of NBA roster spot

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Kentucky Wildcat Derek Willis knows all about patience. He waited two full seasons at UK to earn his way into becoming a key player for the Wildcats. So, when his German pro team had to take a break during the pandemic, waiting was most likely not an issue.

"We came back in March and hung out for a month or two ... and then went back at the end of May and started doing like another little mini training camp to get ready for the end of the season tournament in Germany," Willis said.

The Bullitt East graduate just signed a contract with a team in Italy’s top-tier league after playing two seasons in Germany. That was a top destination for him and his wife, Keely.

"We had a great experience in Germany and now we get to go (to Italy)," Willis said. "We took a visit this past year with Keely’s parents in Italy and we took them around Austria and all these different countries surrounding Germany. Italy was definitely our favorite spot on that trip, so really happy to live there next year."

Like most basketball players, reaching the NBA is Willis' goal. Willis has seen other teammates jump from one season at Kentucky to the NBA, but the always-patient Willis is OK with taking a slower route.

"The NBA is obviously where everyone wants to be and however you get there is how you get there," he said. "Right now, I’m going to do my work overseas and when I’m good enough, I think one day I’ll make it."

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