ESPN’s Chad Ford has Willie Cauley-Stein falling way down to No. 11 to the Pacers in his latest mock draft, despite some internet chatter the Knicks have interest in Cauley-Stein with the fourth pick and then Sacramento at sixth.
Today, a New York reporter made an appearance on John Calipari’s teleconference to ask Cauley-Stein’s former head coach what he thought about his consensus All-American.
Here is some of what Coach Cal had to say:
“First of all, you get a guy that’s 7 foot — he might be bigger — whose feet and hands are that of a 6-3, super athletic guard, which means he can guard five positions. He can guard a point guard or a big guy. He adds shot-blocking. In the schemes of what I’m seeing in the NBA, which are pick and run to the rim and make them play that guy, putting guys in the dribble drive motion, which you saw in Golden State where guys are behind that backboard. The guys in Utah used to do it. He can do all that. A lot of these kids have been groomed since they were 6 years old. Willie really started playing when he came with us. When I saw him in high school at an AAU event, he had two points and two rebounds in a game and he was from the state of Kansas and Kansas did not recruit him. What I say to you about his offensive game is he’s better than you think and you mold him into what you want him to be. People say, ‘He’s only coming into his own now. Why?’ Because he just started playing. I’m looking at him and saying he’s one of those guys that’ll do the things to get a team over the hump.”
When asked if Willie’s work ethic and interest in basketball will be an issue, Cal responded:
Willie plays and loves to play. He’s coming into his own. Anthony Davis wasn’t a gym rat and he’s OK. I think that’s been overblown and it’s almost like you’re trying to pick something out that he’s not.
As for where his former big man will end up, Cal said he knows of three teams that really like Cauley-Stein and he doesn’t expect him to slip past all three.
“This is a guy that’s a unique 7-footer and can fly up and down the court. I think he’s going to be really good.”