Indiana climbs the list for Willis after weekend visit

  • 10/02/2011 9:26 pm in

The tradition of Indiana basketball has long been mentioned by prospects as a significant factor in the recruiting process.

After a Saturday trip to Bloomington, it’s clear that tradition, which includes five national championships, made an impact with Bullitt East (Ky.) junior Derek Willis.

“Coach Crean, he said two things about the jerseys,” the 6-foot-9 forward told Inside the Hall on Sunday. “They’ll never change the candy striped pants. And they’ll always keep the names off the back of the jerseys. I thought that was pretty cool.”

Willis’ father Del, who accompanied him on the unofficial visit, said his son left Bloomington with a favorable impression of the program.

“I think he was really pleased,” the elder Willis said. “I think Indiana’s definitely high on his list. I know they’re definitely in his top five and if I had to say, they’re probably right up there as possibly the No. 1 on his list. He’s pretty high on them.”

Since re-opening his recruitment in early August, Willis has taken visits to Louisville, Kentucky and now Indiana. The Hoosier coaching staff has been down twice in the current contact period to watch him workout at his high school.

“Indiana’s probably come on the strongest,” Del Willis said. “Louisville’s probably right there with them. They’ve offered as well.”

Besides the tradition, the younger Willis cited both the campus and fan support as two things that stood out on the trip.

“It’s a pretty awesome campus. Everything’s real close,” Derek Willis said. “And when we went to the (football) game, the loyalty of the fans was really cool.”

For Del Willis, a chance to watch Indiana coach Tom Crean lead group workouts was an important takeaway to gauge how his son could potentially fit in.

“He’s a real high energy coach. He’s really into what he was doing,” Del Willis said. “I didn’t pick up on any negativity at all. He’s real positive with the guys. It was a pretty impressive workout.”

Willis will be back in Bloomington on Saturday, October 15 for Hoosier Hysteria and has also set up a visit to one of IU’s long-standing rivals for their opening practice.

“He’s going to Big Blue Madness (on Friday, October 14) and Hoosier Hysteria and possibly might go visit Illinois I think on the 23rd,” Del Willis said. “I want to find out how much interest Derek has in Illinois because they have a lot of interest in him.”

In addition to the interest from Illinois, Florida has also entered the picture. And Willis has not ruled out the school he originally made a verbal commitment to back in April, Purdue.

“As far as I understand, the Purdue offer is still there,” Del Willis said. “All Derek has to do is call and say ‘I want to re-commit to Purdue,” and the offer is there. That’s my understanding through the coaching staff there.”


– Indiana offers Bullitt East junior Derek Willis (September 14, 2011)
– Willis hearing from IU, taking wait and see approach (September 7, 2011)

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  • My thoughts exactly.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I hate PUke but I have to hand it to you . . . that was funny!

  • Anonymous

    As far a name goes, it sounds like you took a page out of our well respected resident PhD’s book. As bad as I hate to admit it I’m with Aceman on this one that was funny.

    Thanks for being a cordial fan of an opposing school and not being a trouble making troll.

  • Anonymous

    Regardless of destination, looks like he’ll announce in a few weeks.  Said he’s done doing visit’s and won’t go to any Midnight Madness events. 

    After reading a piece about why McGary is interested in Michigan, it sounded like they likely have a slight lead.  His AAU coach (I think) discussed why Beilein’s offense would feature his skills in a manner other’s wouldn’t.  Based off that I can see why Kentucky, Duke, etc. may not be as interesting to him.

    If I could remember where I read it, I would post it. 

  • Casey B.

    Yeah maybe that’s not desperate. Maybe a better definition of “desperate” is being a Purdue fan and wasting your time reading and commenting on blog posts about IU basketball. 

  • Casey B.

    I’m still baffled as to why we didn’t recruit him hard. Especially after he stated publicly that he was surprised by the lack of IU interest and that he liked the school’s hometown feel. This has always been a complete head-scratcher for me.

    I mean, Crean talks about toughness and will to win. I recall McGary shattering a backboard recently…

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I think it’s classic “little brother” syndrome … but I’d chant “Purdue Sucks” if I were at an IU/PU game, too.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Uhoh, what happens when Drew Brees plays Joe Flacco?

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    St. Mary’s of the Woods?

  • Anonymous

    As I understand it, he had an offer and Crean was in on him early.  Someone feel free to correct me here but it sounds like if he really wanted to go to IU then he had the chance. 

    If Crean backed off, I’m assuming it’s because he thought his time was better spent elsewhere.  Such as spending time with Anya, Lyle, Fischer, Willis, etc.  At some point time is just a sunk cost and you have to move on if you’re not getting positive signs.

  • Anonymous

    C’mon Ace..boilermakers HAVE to have a sense of humor (note the use of CAPS LOCK). That was a good one DBHen.

  • Anonymous

    McGary just does not want to go to IU! Perhaps Cody is too tough an act to follow if you think that you are the “best”? Coach Crean did recruit him very hard, but sometimes a “no” is really a “no”.

  • Kelin Blab

    So Derek Willis won’t visit KY, will stop by PU on his way to Hoosier Hysteria…kid may be earning himself a chant