April 4, 2012

Willinghaus chooses Rebels, Kennedy

Andy Kennedy coached Devin Downey, nearly got him to transfer from Cincinnati to Ole Miss and then spent three long seasons trying to figure out how to stop him at South Carolina.

On Wednesday, Kennedy landed a commitment from a prospect many in hoops circles compare to the compact, lightning-quick former Bearcat/Gamecock point guard when Queen City (N.C.) Prep's Derrick Millinghaus chose the Rebels.

Millinghaus becomes the fifth member of the Rebels' 2012 class, joining signees Martavious Newby and Anthony Cortesia and commitments Jason Carter and Marshall Henderson.

"I've been talking to Coach Kennedy for awhile," Millinghaus said. "He's been coming to watch me play. I love him as a person. He's a good coach. We just had that coach-player connection already. He said I'm what they need right now. He said I'll come in and impact their team right away as a freshman and contribute to the team right away. He said I remind him a lot of Devin Downey.

"He has a passion to win games. I felt it. He loves my game, my up-tempo game. We connected on a lot."

Millinghaus' coach at Queen City Prep, Tyson Waterman, is very familiar with Downey, having watched Downey as a prep star in the Carolinas and then seeing him in countless pick-up games over the years. The comparison between Downey and Millinghaus, Waterman said, is appropriate.

"He scores the ball accurately," Waterman said. "He's a big-time scorer. He has a super pull-up game. He's fast and can run the show. He's another Devin Downey. He and Devin are very similar players. Derrick can probably stroke it a lot better than Devin did."

Millinghaus, a 5-foot-10 Schenectady, N.Y., native, scored 28 points per game at Queen City Prep, adding 6.8 assists per outing. He made more than 47 percent of his field goal attempts, including 43 percent from the 3-point line.

Millinghaus originally signed with St. Bonaventure, but he wasn't comfortable with the coaching staff there. So he elected to wait a season.

"I just worked harder on my game and learned new things," Millinghaus said.

"It's crazy," Waterman said. "Even today, I got calls from Cincinnati. Miami has been calling me. This year, he just blew up. Everything just kind of went in his favor."

Millinghaus said he chose the Rebels over Cincinnati, Georgia and Hofstra.

"I think what he saw was the opportunity to go to a program and help turn it around," Waterman said. "He knows Coach likes Downey so much and he compared him to him. Derrick is familiar with Devin as a player and he knows what kind of game he had. Derrick is a major competitor and I think Mississippi just felt right for him.

"They really needed a guard like Derrick who can come in and just add buckets. Derrick is lightning-quick. He can pull up in transition and make plays with his athleticism. Coach said he wanted a point guard who can make plays and score with the basketball with 10 seconds on the shot clock. That's Derrick's game."

Millinghaus said he plans to arrive in Oxford in July to begin preparing for the 2012-13 season.

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