Who says news doesn’t happen on Labor Day? Sports Illustrated’s Kelli Anderson just posted a profile of Willie Cauley-Stein, and it’s chock full of awesome stuff. Willie opens up about last season and all the work he’s been doing to prepare for this season, including working on all parts of his game, “from guard skills to banging in the post,” and yes, free throws. Most notably, Willie says he’s ready to step up and be a leader:
Moreover, after struggling last season to embrace the leadership role thrust on him after Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL, Cauley-Stein is ready to be “that go-to guy,” he says. “I want to be one of our leaders that guys can look up to and talk to. Last year I wasn’t really ready to do that. It’s one of the biggest reasons I came back. I wasn’t ready to leave on the note we ended on.”
Calipari says that Willie doesn’t really fit the mold of some of his past big men like Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, or Marcus Camby, but his versatility on defense is his strength:
“But he can guard any position, so on pick-and-rolls, he can switch. That’s of great value. The NBA is really into analytics right now, and a nimble seven-footer who can guard all these positions and who is improving — Willie’s going to be off the charts.”
Remember that infamous picture of Willie drawing on the sidewalk with chalk? Art isn’t just a hobby for him; he’s making it his major. Maybe he can add a portrait of the team celebrating #9 to his collection?
Credentials aside, Cauley-Stein has been impressed by the focus newcomers have shown in summer workouts. “You can tell they’re on a mission,” he says. “Especially after watching us last year, they know this is a business. We’re not here to mess around.”
Only 47 days ’til Big Blue Madness.