Huge performances against Texas and North Carolina have Willie Cauley-Stein’s NBA stock soaring. Draft Express still lists Willie as the 4th pick in their 2015 mock, while Chad Ford bumped Willie up eight spots to #8 on his latest Big Board of prospects:
8. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Cauley-Stein is having the best two weeks of his college basketball career. He had an amazing 21-point, 12-rebound, 3-block, five-steal performance against Texas’ huge frontline. He posted another double-double against Columbia and versus North Carolina on Saturday he had 15 points, six rebounds, two blocks and four steals. After sitting in the late lottery for the past two years, he’s finally started to live up to that potential scouts saw in him as a freshman. Not only has Cauley-Stein continued his elite defensive presence, but he’s become more active offensively and shown a more consistent motor and toughness. He has become the unlikely leader of this Kentucky team and scouts are taking note of it. While he’s still somewhat limited offensively and will turn 22 in August, scouts still believe he has the potential to be a starting center in the NBA in the mode of Tyson Chandler.
Meanwhile, Ford has Karl Towns at #3, Trey Lyles at #21, and Dakari Johnson at #29. In his weekly chat, Ford said that although Willie’s rise has been impressive, he doesn’t see him going higher than #5:
Q. What do you honestly think Cauley-Stein’s draft projection can top out at? Could he become a top 3 pick?
That may be a little high for a couple of reasons. One, while he’s improved offensively, he’s still pretty limited. Two, he’s already 21 years old. There are guys at 19 who have similar types of stats who he’s competing with. We have him at 8 on our Big Board. I think 5 is as high as he would go, but I think the 7-10 range is most likely.