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Don’t forget about Willie!

With all the hype surrounding Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, and Alex Poythress, we often forget that Willie Cauley-Stein is a 7-foot freak of an athlete.

He barely cracked the top 50 on’s final rankings, but he’s full of potential and could be a star if he learns how to play with that athleticism.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

67 Comments for Don’t forget about Willie!

  1. SaulSmith
    10:36 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    In the Tubby Smith days, Cauley would be the cream of the class, as he would be the ONLY recruit in the top 50 in rankings.

  2. Pleedo
    10:37 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I have to disagree about “freak” athlete. I think its just the opposite. He is tall and has lots of potential. He will be good, but freak of an athlete should only be described in the likes of Griffin, James, etc

  3. Southern Illinois Cat Fan
    10:38 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He looks like he will be a program player like Wiltjer, which is good. We need a couple of them to be successful I think, ala Darius Miller, P Patterson, etc.

  4. symon
    10:43 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He sucks.

  5. Bob Skallen
    10:48 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I like that he’s quick to the hoop off of the rebound. He doesn’t hesitate and he doesn’t dribble, he just grabs the ball and bolts right to the hoop as soon as he gets his mitts on the ball.

  6. Rusty Pipes
    10:48 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Ive heard he wont qualify. Something about summer courses that didnt count towards his credits

  7. Hunter1249
    10:53 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He is a nice player. He can move well but is not explosive in jumping to the rim based on that video. If he can rebound and play some d early on he may have a shot. If he can develop a mid range game he will be very good. If not, I can see him transferring by his junior year.

  8. Sully
    10:54 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    The kid is a good athlete, with excellent hands, as shown by his prowess as a wide receiver in football. Focusing on hoops will help him alot. A year behind Noel, and he’s going to be a handful as a soph.

  9. WSFLWildcat
    10:55 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    #1 True. Tall and can run. Cal can work with that. Also like NBA drafting, college recruiting is about potential and upside.

  10. 2014
    10:57 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    When I bring you Harrow as a Junior, Wiltjer as a Junior, and Cauley as a Sophomore, plus the recruiting class, you can go ahead and give the Cats the trophy in October.

  11. Corn
    11:00 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He is a raw Tyson Chandler type player. He’ll be a Shawn Taggert type player for Cal.

  12. tltaworl
    11:02 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Get Bennett!

  13. the Big Dog
    11:04 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He needs to keep playing football. Can you imagine a fade pattern to a guy seven feet tall who can run and jump? I saw him (tv) in one of the games being played in NO during the final four. A little raw on offense, but he will give us better minutes than Eloy.

  14. the Big Dog
    11:06 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    One final thought, this guy could be huge for us when the 2013 class shows up. There are few quality big men in that class and Noel is probably a one and done. Having Cauley as a second year player could save us in the middle.

    11:06 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with #10.

  16. Rusty Fool
    11:08 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Do you know what #4 and #6 have in common? Won’t keep you in suspence-they are both moronic trolls. Stop at the troll both on your way out, Cretins…

  17. Steely Dan
    11:11 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    You know who else barely cracked the top 50? Jon Hood

  18. Hmm....
    11:12 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Just hope he’s not another Eloy Vargas…..

  19. best1978
    11:20 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    MOST freshman take a year or two to get it together.

  20. Devastation INC
    11:25 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Give cal a couple years with this guy and he will be a force. He looks athletic enough to me.

  21. Elvira
    11:26 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He sucks…warm the pine.

    Hood sucks.

    We’ll loss 13 games next year.

  22. Elvira Sucks
    11:32 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    21 – Loss 13 games? I’m at a loss for words at your incredible post.

  23. ALUKfan
    11:32 am April 20, 2012 Permalink


    Jon Hood was a top 30 for a while, in the final 2009 rankings on espn he fell to 92, it seems like they went back and changed that because he was higher last time i remembered.

    Vargas was #41 in his class.

    # really doesn’t mean anything. A lot of the lower players have a ton of potential but aren’t going to make an immediate impact. Because if you want to look at numbers that support that, looking back through 2009 you have Renardo Sydney who was #7, then you have people like Tyler Honeycutt, Kahwi Leonard, and Mike Moser who are 51,55 and 56 respectively. All of them became studs. It might take a few years but I think they could develope and get better.

  24. Blue_Cat75
    11:33 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Nice highlight reel. I especially like the part where they show him just standing around.
    I wish they would show these guys doing something other than dunking.

  25. KSRFanBoy
    11:38 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    6) If that were true I’m sure some recruiting service or website with real connections (like this one) would have posted something about it. At this point, I have all the reason to believe you’re an uninformed, negative Loserville fan. GTFO

  26. Rockfield,KY
    11:49 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I think he’ll get some minutes bc he is supposed to be a good rebounder, which isn’t really one of Noel’s strengths. Davis could rebound extremely well and we will definitely miss that.

  27. Rockfield,KY
    11:50 am April 20, 2012 Permalink

    23. Jon Hood got to #19 on before the spring signing period and then fell to #40, I believe, when the final rankings were released. I’m positive about the #19 ranking.

  28. MN CAT
    12:07 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Is there a site that keeps track of how players pan out in relation to their ranking out of high school? That would be really interesting. I’m sure the higher ranked players tend to do better, but I also suspect the NBA has plenty of guys who were not in the top 25 or even 50, and we all know of top 10 guys who never pan out. Where were guys like Hayes, Daniels, Hawkins, Fitch, and Estill rated? Not as good as the Davis’s and MKG’s of the world, but certainly very strong contributors, and winners. It seems foolish to write off a kid to soon just because he’s not ranked at the very top.

  29. Mkgistebow
    12:08 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He’s another eloy. I do like how he sprints rim to rim on the break tho, hes a bit ahead of the curve as far as that goes but he will struggle his 1st 2 years. I like the upside but will be shocked if he ever starts for us.

  30. The Truth about Cauley
    12:10 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I hope Calipari can get something to register with Cauley, he’s had “potential” for years now and hasn’t gotten any better. If you’re 7’0 tall and can run the floor like Davis with a ton of athletic ability, how do you average 10 points and a few boards a game playing for a crap high school where you have 8 inches on everyone?

  31. T.Ford
    12:15 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He could create sidewalk art around the Craft center.

  32. ozark cat fan
    12:20 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    The game I watched him on-line he was not good at all. This clip must be all the highlights from the entire year. Even with the coaching he’ll get once he comes to UK, I can’t possibly see him contributing at all before his junior or senior year. I hope I’m wrong but this kid is a real “project.”

  33. Mr Obvious
    12:27 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Cauley was likely recruited for 2013/14…. so he has a year to develop.

    If for some miraculous chance we were to get – say Jefferson AND Bennett… as well as a possible surprise (Juco maybe) – and possibly a slide in of Graham???… it’s not outside the realm of possibility to see Cauley redshirt.
    DDMO relies on length/speed – with rotating parts… N2, Bennett, Wiltjer, Poythress and Jefferson can handle a solid rotation on the 3/4/5… — 5 guys for 3 positions.
    Harrow, Goodwin, Graham rotation for 1/2…w/Hood/Twany/Polson for added relief.

    If this dynamic where to be played out… Cauley could spend a year BUILDING his base to be way better in the 13/14 season…. a year where the BIG is not near as available.

  34. cparkrookie15
    12:38 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    How much does everyone see this guy contributing to the team next year?

  35. Seriously?
    12:42 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Are you serious #30? He hasn’t gotten any better? Have you followed his development over the years? “Something to register”? So, are you saying he has had great coaching in the past, but he just isn’t getting it?

  36. HackRichards
    12:46 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Who HAS forgot? Certainly not I. Must have been all the fickle young idgits who were giving Teague a hard time throughout the year.

  37. Seriously?
    1:06 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Yes, i’m serious #35 . I have no idea about his coaching or lack of, i’m talking about him personally, no he hasn’t gotten any better, have you been keeping up? he was supposed to be a beast from an early age, but hasn’t gotten an ounce better, have you ever actually wathced him play? well I have and it’s a very ugly thing to see someone that height that is blessed with athletic abilty, actually seem to get worse over time. I’ve seen him play against kids half his size and get destroyed by them… its depressing

  38. Seriously?
    1:14 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Now having said that, I hope the kid is a monster and comes here ready to get better, just calling it like I see it, i’ve been wrong before. My stats were twice his my senior year and had doubled in every category since my fresham year and i’m 6’1 185 and I outrebounded and outblocked this 7’0 footer? sorry I happen to be offended by people who give no effort, how he’s the 40th ranked player is beyond me, wait till he gets here and you’ll see

  39. 502Cat
    1:16 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    You would think this is UL comment section the way everyone is trashing this kid!

    I thought he looked pretty good. Put him with Nerlens and we will have some heighth and length inside. That could challege the shot block record again.

  40. Seriously
    1:23 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I wish him luck here

  41. Gilly the Kidd
    1:24 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Suggestion to guy making these videos. Edit out the parts where he is just standing there waiting for the ball.

  42. OneAndDone
    1:25 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Cal could coach this guy to be SCARY GOOD… He apears to have quick feet for his size. Look out!!

  43. Mkgistebow
    1:32 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    ” Seriously” is right, no1s being negative, just realistic. Eloy was a 5 star and his highlight videos and hs stats crushed cauleys’. I trust cal but I believe he had a scholarship to waste and figured he’d waste it on 7 feet and 5 fouls a game. Depending on personell(or lack thereof) Willie may contribute in the future but, if nothing else, he will be a big body to go against in practice and that in and of itself is somewhat valuable.

  44. UK Freshmen
    1:34 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Ha. Like ‘athleticism’ can be learned.

  45. RYNO
    1:53 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    43) Your name sucks

  46. RYNO
    1:59 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Eloy wasn’t rated as a 5 star recruit on any of the 3 national recruiting services- He was a 4 star on Scout, Rivals, and ESPN

    He was the 30th, 26th, and 41st overall prospect respectively.

  47. Big V
    2:01 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    This kid is a freak athlete. The question I had could we see some zone played this year using the two big men at the same time.

  48. Seriously
    2:03 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Thankyou #43 , i’m not dissing the kid as an individual, the comparison to Vargas is perfect. Couldn’t have said any of that post better myself, true on all points…

  49. Great Video
    2:21 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Great highlight video of the kid standing around and on occasion the video repeats one of the dunks he already had, must have been hard up for highlight, kid looks like he has the post game of Mugsy Bogues

  50. Kansas City Cat
    2:22 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    for those doubting cauley you should be ashamed. this kid has game. i live in his area and he’s a great player that will stay more than a couple years. we’re going to need that. don’t dismiss this kid. he’s no eloy..eloy had concrete shoes. this guy can get up and down the court and has a jump shot. go cats!

  51. Micah
    2:26 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Cauley is going to be a project for sure, and will be around for awhile but we don’t know how good the kid is going to be just yet. Lets give him a few years before we all decide he sucks, geez people, not everyone is freaking Anthony Davis, God forbid the kid has to come in a nd get better over the course of a few years..

  52. SagaciousMind
    2:49 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Hood has hurt his wrist senior year so he didnt play much, thats why he dropped. As for Cauley, no he’s not a Davis or Noel, but he’s tall, has good hands, can run, doesnt hesitate, and looks to have a good feel for blockin shots. He will be around a while and will be a star at UK. Why do you even doubt Cal? He knows what he is doin.

  53. henryearl
    3:12 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    48 go ahead and dome him up already

  54. bosshogg24
    3:16 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    I cant’ believe the dumb post about Cauley! He is an athlete I was very impressed with him. He will be an outstanding player if not this year, he will later! He is the biggest steal of the year and right under Bill Self’s nose. He could be all-sec!

  55. bosshogg24
    3:17 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Cauley is not a Tubby Smith project! Get that thru your head!

  56. blitzedanddazed
    4:03 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Looks like Eloy’s younger brother.

  57. blitzedanddazed
    4:10 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    Oh yeah, Bo Ryan is an ass !

  58. barn
    4:48 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    project? maybe, but rivals has him as the #9 best center in the country.

  59. Random thoughts
    6:30 pm April 20, 2012 Permalink

    He’s gonna be something…way down the line. I’m not trying to put him down at all, it’s just that if that is a highlight film, I would hate to see full games. It’s rough to see a 7 footer have a tough time dunking. Once he learns to use his body and gets some post moves, he could be very dangerous. You can’t teach size.

  60. richard purcell
    12:18 am April 21, 2012 Permalink

    #4 u r the one that sucks, poser douchbag.

  61. floodcat
    12:59 am April 21, 2012 Permalink

    that video has to be old, because if you saw the clips from the Lebron camp you would swear it was a different person. He had improved greatly since that video, at lebron he dunking on good competition, getting up and down the floor and getting way above the rim, check it out on youtube, its way better than this video.

  62. Hoosier Wild Cat
    9:16 am April 21, 2012 Permalink

    Willie will be a STAR. Mark it down.

  63. Keith Culver
    9:37 am April 21, 2012 Permalink

    wow a 7 footer that can dunk

  64. Cincinnati Cat
    10:06 am April 21, 2012 Permalink

    Trust, this kid is no Eloy Vargas based on his mobility alone! Do you really think Vargas could have been a successful wide receiver in HS? Heck no! The fact that he will concentrate solely on basketball now is a huge plus for his game. This highlight reel really didn’t do him much justice….I’ve seen highlights on this this kid where he looks much better! He won’t be an instant star but by his Junior year he will be extremely valuable to UK’s basketball program. He and Wiltjer will great 4 year players the program will need to continue to be successful down the road. We can’t have all 1 and dones!

  65. CDD
    10:31 am April 21, 2012 Permalink

    shagari alleyne

  66. diet
    4:08 pm April 21, 2012 Permalink

    jon gabriel I should say, as a great deal as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt support but shed interest right after a even though. Its as in the event you had a wonderful grasp on the topic matter.

  67. tbone42376
    7:31 pm April 21, 2012 Permalink

    #66….. What did you just say???????