John Calipari’s players don’t stay in school for long. With the one-and-done rule, and Calipari’s penchant for bringing in the most talented players in the country, a majority of UK’s contributors reach the professional ranks well before they’re scheduled to receive a college degree. However, a handful of players in Coach Cal’s short years have decided to forgo millions of dollars and return to the Bluegrass to hone their skills, and win a few more games in the process. Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein will be joining this group of players in the upcoming season. In determining how they will fare, a useful tool might be to look at how some of the other talented returnees have done in their extended tutelage under John Calipari. What follows is the list of players in the Calipari era who were projected to be drafted in the NBA, but chose to return to UK for another season:
2008-09: MPG — 33.7 PPG- 17.9 RPG- 9.3 APG- 1.9 FG%- 60.3 Effective FG Percentage 60.3%
2009-10: MPG —33.0 PPG-14.3 RPG- 7.4 APG- .9 FG%- 57.5 Effective FG Percentage: 60.6%
Patterson turned down a likely spot in the lottery to play for John Calipari. After being the go-to post man under Billy Gillispie, Patrick began taking more jump shots in his third season in order to spread the floor with the added presence of Demarcus Cousins. As you can see, his stats took a dip across the board in his returning year. However, when one accounts for the three pointers that he started taking, Patrick’s effective field goal percentage saw a slight increase. His team won 13 more games in his returning season.
2010-11: MPG — 31.0 PPG- 10.9 RPG- 4.6 APG- 1.7 FG%- 47.8
2011-12: MPG —26.1 PPG-9.9 RPG- 2.8 APG- 2.0 FG%- 47.4
Darius wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the draft after his team went to the Final Four in the 2010-11 season. However, with Deandre Liggins being drafted after departing early, one can assume that Darius stood a decent chance of going somewhere in the second round. Miller’s stats also saw a dip across the board in his returning year. With an improved front court of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and a sophomore Terrence Jones, Darius’ minutes took the biggest hit. However, Miller’s assists per game increased even with fewer minutes, and his scoring per minute improved significantly. Miller’s team won 9 more games and a national title in his returning year.
2010-11: MPG — 28.4 PPG- 12.3 RPG- 2.0 APG- 1.6 FG%- 49.7
2011-12: MPG —31.2 PPG-13.7 RPG- 2.7 APG- 1.5 FG%- 47.4
The captain of #TeamNoSleep was projected to be drafted somewhere in the 2nd (possibly in the late 1st) round of the 2011 draft. However, he returned for his sophomore year to see increased minutes and scoring, due to the departure of Deandre Liggins and no new recruits at shooting guard. Unlike the other players who returned, Doron’s field goal percentage saw a slight decline. Doron’s team won 9 more games and a national title in his returning year.
2010-11: MPG — 31.5 PPG- 15.7 RPG- 8.8 APG- 1.6 FG%- 44.2
2011-12: MPG —29.3 PPG-12.3 RPG- 7.7 APG- 1.3 FG%- 50.0
Terrence showed tons of raw potential in his first year and was projected to go in the lottery after the season. However, his effort was suspect at times and his play was inconsistent. A first glance shows that Terrance’s stats decreased across the board in his second season. However, his field goal percentage improved dramatically, and his play became much more reliable towards the end of the season. His team won 9 more games and a national title in his returning year.
So what can we conclude? Every player except Doron saw a decrease in minutes. Patterson and Jones shot the ball more efficiently, and Darius became a more efficient scorer. Doron didn’t necessarily improve his efficiency, but this might stem from his increased role in the offense due to the decreased competition at shooting guard. One thing that every player had in common: they won more games in their returning years.
Granted, it’s a very small sample size; and a correlation doesn’t imply causation. But if you’re a believer in trends, you can expect to see less minutes and more efficient scoring from Alex Poythress and Willie-Cauley Stein next season. Given that both players shot close to 60% last season, this thought is actually pretty scary. I personally hope to see it play out.
One trend that I’m sure will hold — their team is going to win more games. A lot more.
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