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Link: Willis proud he led heralded Kentucky recruiting train

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Derek Willis is next up in's series of stories profiling UK's latest men's basketball newcomers.

Willis - a native of Mt. Washington, Ky., just southeast of Louisville - grew up a fan of the Wildcats' in-state rival, but decided Kentucky was the place for him and John Calipari the coach. More than a year-and-a-half ago, Willis became the first member of what would turn into yet another No. 1-ranked recruiting class.

The 6-foot-9 forward, who was ranked a top-30 player at the time, decided before the rest of the star-studded 2013 class came together that Kentucky was too good to pass up.

"I figured I got a scholarship offer from Kentucky so I better get on this train while I can because I know what's going to be coming behind me," Willis said.

And oh, did they come.

The Harrison twins were the next to commit. Then it was James Young and Marcus Lee. Then Dakari Johnson pledged his allegiance to the Cats. And then Julius Randle signed on. Finally, Dominique Hawkins completed it.

When it was all said and done, UK had the No. 1 recruiting class once again and what many analysts are touting the greatest recruiting class of all time.

And Willis was the one who started it all.

Willis admitted it's pretty neat to be known as the first commit in what could potentially be a historic class, even if it means he's going to have to work twice as hard to keep up with the internal team competition. Willis said that's ultimately the reason why he chose Kentucky. He knew he wouldn't be the only high-profile recruit at UK, and he relished the chance to play alongside and compete with the best players in the country.

"It's obviously about the team," Willis said. "If it was just about me, I could have gone somewhere else. It would have still been about the team and I could have maybe started or I could have been coming off the bench earlier somewhere else, but here I want to work even harder to do that and I want to push myself to do that even harder. When they bring in potential NBA players like they have been, you can't beat that. Going against future NBA players, it's too big of an opportunity (to pass up)."

Make sure to give the full story on Willis a read right here.

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I can hardly wait for the b-ball season to start. Go Cats!!

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