Willis to compete for spot on USA Basketball AmeriCup Team

USA Basketball announced Monday that former Kentucky forward Derek Willis will compete as one of 16 players in the USA Basketball Men’s AmeriCup Team training camp. Willis is the lone player who played collegiately last season.

USA will use the training camp to help determine its 12-member team for the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The training camp will be held at the University of Houston from Aug. 17-24. Former NBA head coach and current ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy is the team’s head coach.

Former Kentucky forward Derek Willis has accepted an invitation to compete as one of 16 players in the USA Basketball Men’s AmeriCup Team training camp at the University of Houston. (photo by Chris Reynolds)

“To represent your country in international competition is a great honor, and the players that have been invited to camp are motivated to continue the great history of success of USA Basketball,” Van Gundy said. “As a group, we must come together quickly and match the passion and intensity of the teams in Group C.”

USA will compete against Panama, Uruguay and Dominican Republic in group C of the AmeriCup. Those preliminary round games will take place Aug. 28-30. After opening play against Panama (Aug. 28, 10 a.m. ET), USA will face Uruguay (Aug. 29, 12:30 p.m. ET). The Americans will close out group play with the Dominican Republic (Aug. 30, 10 a.m. ET).

A USA men’s national team last participated in the FIBA Americas Championship in 2007. USA Basketball officially has fielded teams in eight FIBA Americas Championships, winning six gold (2007, 2003, 1999, 1997, 1993 and 1992) and one silver medal (1989), while compiling a 60-10 win-loss record.

Willis signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons earlier this summer after going undrafted. He also played four games with the team at the Orlando Summer League where he averaged 3.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

At Kentucky, Willis averaged 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last year as a senior. He shot 37.7 percent from distance and blocked 18 shots over the final nine games of the season.

After playing sparingly as a freshman and sophomore, he averaged more than 20 minutes per game over his final two seasons at UK and was a 40.8-percent 3-point shooter.

The 15 other players expected to take part in the training camp alongside Willis include: Billy Baron (Eskisehir Basket, Turkey); Rod Benson (Wonju Dongbu Promy, South Korea); Alec Brown (Windy City Bulls); Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce); Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns); Darrun Hilliard (Detroit Pistons); Jonathan Holmes (Canton Charge); Ra’Shad James (Cedevita Zagreb, Croatia); Kendall Marshall (Reno Bighorns); Darius Morris (Rio Grande Valley Vipers); Xavier Munford (Greensboro Swarm); Marshall Plumlee (New York Knicks); Jameel Warney (Texas Legends); C.J. Williams (Texas Legends); and Reggie Williams (Oklahoma City Blue).

FIBA AmeriCup 2017

Group A will play Aug. 25-27 in Medellín, Colombia, and includes the host country Colombia, as well as Brazil, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Group B will compete Aug. 27-29 in Bahía Blanca, Argentina, and will consist of host country Argentina, as well as Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

The semifinals and finals will be held in Córdoba, Argentina on Sept. 2-3. Winners of groups A, B and C, plus Argentina (tournament hosts), will advance to the semifinals.

The FIBA AmeriCup 2017, considered the FIBA Americas zone championship, will feature 12 nations from North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.