The last week of college basketball season is always a special one for outgoing seniors. In this case, it was an extra special one for Kentucky’s Derek Willis.
Willis dropped to one knee and popped the question Tuesday night before Kentucky’s 73-67 victory on senior night at Rupp Arena.
Big Blue Nation went wild and Kentucky coach John Calipari applauded right along with the crowd as he watched from the sideline a few feet away. And indeed, Willis’ girlfriend said yes. Here’s another video angle that captures more of the crowd:
According to ESPN’s Kaylee Hartung, Willis didn’t tell any of his teammates about the plan until right before the ceremony. When he told them, the locker room, as you’d imagine, went nuts.
The Wildcats were surely pretty excited about Willis’ contributions during the game too. The senior forward scored a modest three points and grabbed eight rebounds, but he had two of the most important plays during Kentucky’s comeback from a 19-point first-half deficit.
When Willis raced back on defense and blocked a Nolan Cressler transition layup attempt, the defensive play sparked a Kentucky fast break that ended with Malik Monk absorbing contact and completing an alley-oop dunk. That five-point swing pulled the Wildcat within six with 8:50 to go instead of the deficit ballooning to 11.
The only basket Willis had the entire night was also memorable. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to go in the game capped a 15-4 Kentucky surge and gave the Wildcats their first lead of the entire game.
Credit Willis for regaining his focus after his proposal and helping make his senior night even better.
An engagement, a couple big plays and the largest comeback win of the Calipari era at Kentucky? Thats a pretty good night.