In his weekly look around college basketball, ESPN’s Myron Medcalf focuses on the freshmen in the game he sees with raw talent and bright futures. UK’s Willie Cauley-Stein is one of them:
Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky): The center is fifth in the SEC with an 8.25 block percentage. He’s certainly a work in progress on the offensive end, but his potential is very high. That’s why he’s a projected lottery pick on multiple draft boards. He’s already a defensive talent with a gift for blocking and altering shots. Now he just needs work to become a more consistent and diverse contributor on offense. His defensive tools, however, should help a young Kentucky team as it makes a push toward the NCAA tournament. If the Wildcats crack the field, Cauley-Stein will be an important element of John Calipari’s postseason plans, assuming he’s healthy.
The talent level in this year’s draft is down, which probably means that any of Kentucky’s freshmen could go out and earn a nice paycheck based on their potential, including Cauley-Stein. However, Cal had an interesting comment after the game on Saturday. He hinted that while it may be taking this year’s team longer to figure things out, it may mean that we see some of them return next year:
“It’s their habits and their mindsets that we’re trying to change, and that just takes time. And hopefully it’s going to take a couple years – not one.“
To whom is Cal referring? Obviously not Nerlens, the one player Cal says “gets it” and may be the number one pick in the draft. Based on his comments about toughness and committing to change, it may be Alex Poythress, who has improved, but still struggles to put in 40 minutes of intense effort. Archie Goodwin certainly has room to grow, but for some reason, I don’t see him returning. Many analysts have said that Willie Cauley-Stein would best be served by returning for another year and possibly going as a top five pick in the 2014 draft.
Could we actually have sophomores next season?