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Willie Cauley-Stein’s Tuesday News and Views


Forgive me if I am a little rusty, but with Drew on vacation, I will be handling the night post this week, a task I haven’t had consistently in a couple of weeks. Luckily for me this is a busy time with much to talk about, and hopefully this will be like riding a bicycle and I can ease back into the flow. We start tonight with a dedication to the decision by Willie Cauley-Stein to return to Kentucky for his Junior season. This is probably one of the two biggest “returns” of a Calipari-recruited player (along with Terrence Jones) of the last five seasons and for many, is completely unexpected. All season long, Willie was presumed to be headed to the league and everyone around the program had long thought that two years of WCS would be all we would be lucky enough to get. But then things began to change in March. Willie started talking to friends/teammates about a return and after his injury the decision was made. We first got wind this was a real possibility last week and Ryan Lemond heard it was the proverbial “done deal” this weekend. Still I couldn’t help but be skeptical because what Willie did is unusual…he returned to school while potentially being a lottery pick. That takes a lot of guts and I applaud Willie for making the call.

Still, the decision does make sense for two reasons. First, there is an argument that Willie Cauley-Stein wasn’t the high pick lock that some presumed. A source tells KSR that Willie had surgery in the last couple of days and he would have been unable to workout during the draft process. This would have really hindered Willie’s likely draft status because he is the type of player who would be a workout warrior. NBA folks love guys like Willie…long, athletic and quick makes scouts drool and much of Willie’s projection was based on these qualities. If he was unable to show them, that could be a problem. Thus a return gives him a chance to put his best foot forward with another season of development and a chance to have all his best traits on display.

But the other reason Willie’s return makes sense is a fact intrinsic to him. Willie Cauley-Stein is just a different guy, to whom basketball is a part but not the whole of his life. Here is a secret about nearly every big-time college basketball player who is looking at the Draft…their life is basketball. One of my favorite questions to ask players when they arrive on campus is what they would do if they weren’t basketball players…for many the question has never even entered their minds. These guys grow up wanting to play basketball and most of their free time is based on basketball activities. Not Willie. WCS is a kid with a lot of interests in a lot of areas and a free spirit prone to search for the happiness of the moment he is in. After the national championship game, he talked to reporters about the allure of the NBA but then noted that if you are happy doing what you are doing now, why rush to something else? That is a great insight (not just about the NBA but everything in life) and one that few players truly carry. Willie is happy being a college student and being in school…a fact that is even more amazing considering he sort of hated school when he arrived. This has become a place where he is happy, has varied interests and has many friends of diverse backgrounds. In Willie’s mind, why change that if he doesn’t have to?

There will be a huge effect on the Kentucky team due to Willie’s decision to return. Kentucky is now loaded in the front court and he adds a huge dose of athleticism to a class that isnt quite as explosive athletically as in previous years. But it is also a testament to a kid who just does things differently…something I always like. Coloring books for everyone, Willie is back

A few more quick notes:

Don’t forget about Marcus Lee: The first “announcement” today came from Marcus Lee, whose brother told Adam Zagoria that he would be returning to Kentucky. The idea of Lee considering the draft was mocked by some, but honestly it should not have been. Lee would have gone in the top 40 in the draft thanks to his potential and his length makes his NBA future very promising. He will now be part of a very crowded frontcourt (even more so if Dakari returns as well) but I expect him to improve a great deal this summer. Marcus is a great kid and one of my favorite guys on the team, With him and the other potential returnees back in Lexington, practices next season are going to be absolutely stacked.

Calipari was Everywhere: John Calipari spoke to a ton of different interviewees today, ranging from Dan Patrick to CBS This Morning to Jim Rome to Bill O’Reilly to of course KSR. He revealed the “tweak” (Andrew passed it more), he gave his notion of how many players he thought would head to the Draft (less than five) and he gave a timeline for his new coach hire (a week or so). There were lots of little tidbits over the course of the day, but to be honest, the one that stuck out to me had to do with his future here in Lexington. He was asked about Rex Chapman’s tweet at the Final Game and after saying “who?”, he noted that it was not true. But he did once again tie his future at Kentucky to the NBA collective bargaining rules about the Draft. On KSR he noted that if the rule got changed to two years (which he believes will happen), “I will probably finish my career here and stay a long time.” But he also suggested that if it stays one year, he might not be able to endure the constant grind of building a new team every year. This summer could be the huge time for the two year decision as the NBA and the Players meet about the issue that was tabled last summer. We all have thought that Kentucky basketball would be better off if the rule changed, but now we know that Calipari’s future may be tied to it as well. That is a lot riding on a decision that will be made by those with no tie to college basketball. But a rejuvenated Calipari with two years worth of top talent? That could be special…

Big Day for Rupp Arena: The news is better for the Rupp Arena renovation, but still not completed. Today will be the day we find out whether the State Senate falls in line and supports the plan for money for a Rupp Arena renovation. The plan has been altered slightly and lawmakers spent today in meetings trying to hash out a grand bargain. IT must be done by today however or the Rupp project could fall by the wayside, with major negative consequences for the historic facility. It is a story worth following on Tuesday and we will let you know what happens.

UK Football Loses One: There was some bad news in the world of UK sports as four star DB Montrell Custis changed his commitment from Kentucky to Alabama. Custis fell in love with the UK football staff when he visited and was a huge early commitment. But Alabama came calling and that is a tough school for a high school player of his talent to turn down. Alabama is big boy recruiting and it says something that UK has been able to go against them on a few players the last two years…but it is a tough battle to win and Kentucky today lost one of the potential crown jewels of the 2015 class in the process to Saban and the Tide.

Calipari is doing the ESPN Car Wash today, which means he will be on virtually every ESPN show today (except Colin Cowherd, who criticized Calipari loudly today and now finds himself not on the schedule). We will let you know any news that comes out of those appearances. Until then, celebrate as Willie is back and Kentucky basketball looks to be a happy time again next year:


Article written by Matt Jones

32 Comments for Willie Cauley-Stein’s Tuesday News and Views

  1. Jason in Nashville
    11:10 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Welcome back Marcus and Willie! Looking forward to watching you guys set the record for blocks next year. 🙂

    • crazycatfan
      11:17 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink


  2. just sayin
    11:12 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Calipari said he’s going to be at UK for a long time just deflated

    • what?
      11:18 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink


  3. Deep Throat
    11:18 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    One must 100% trust Ryan’s sources. #Undefeated

  4. Shidler
    11:28 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    What did Cowherd say?

    • wildcatlaw
      7:55 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      Something along the lines of I’ll ask about Cal about one and done, I’ll ask him one question and say we’re done, see ya, get of here.

      I heard it as his show was going off the air and thought what a turd, hope Cal hears this. Apparently, he did … the power of the BBN

  5. go cats go
    11:30 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    BLESS YOU BLESS YOU BLESS YOU. You have made an old man happy , Marcus and Willie.

  6. inside info
    11:39 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I usually can tolerate O’Reilly because he will be honest about a lot of things that a lot of people won’t be honest about. But this interview was over the top and made him look like an idiot. Coach Cal did a great job.

    What did Cowherd say about Cal today? Link? Quotes?

    Surprised that WCS came back. He and Coach Cal don’t always see eye to eye on things. But if I am an NBA GM and the guy I’m thinking about spending millions on in the lottery doesn’t believe basketball is his life i’m going to pass on him and go to the next guy.

    • goCal
      7:55 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      I was so glad Cal was able to dispense of the fallacy (which everyone believes) that all basketball players are disrespectful thugs. He let O’Reilly know that the players he recruits are upstanding young men!

  7. Ten loss Cal
    11:58 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    so lets tweak to lose only 9 games next year yeah…go toothless blue

    • go cats go
      12:22 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      looserville fan ??? I wonder

    • Eric
      12:26 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      guarantee he is a UL fan…he must have forgot that Cal is 6-1 vs Pitino since coming to UK..8 > 3…32-15…one sided rivalry

    • Got 'Em All In?
      4:36 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      Hey Moron, did you get all your hackneyed talking points in? If you are done, step forward and take your ass-kicking.

  8. Go UKCats!
    12:13 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    I hope more Wildcats come back for another year!! Domination is the word!!

  9. Casper
    1:09 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    i can’t imagine what the twins will do.
    i think they would want to stay together one more
    year and improve under Cal.
    But, i hear rumors their parents don’t like Cal and
    blame him for their less than stellar year…

    • cats42301
      2:24 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      So let me get this right. You know a guy who knows a guy who heard a rumor from another guy that this other guy told him the twins’ parents didn’t like coach Calipari? This has been “Rex” Casper, your on the scene action news reporter!

    • Casper
      3:31 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      cats42301, the guy sat near the twins’ parents during a game
      and heard them openly criticize Cal’s coaching of their sons…

    • The Truth Eludes You
      4:38 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      You are one of the worst posters on here. Lies are your bread and butter so keep spreadin’…

    • RP's Facelift
      5:03 pm April 15, 2014 Permalink

      It occurs to me that maybe Cal is hitting all the interviews because he knows he has a very nucleus of players coming back so the recruiting trail less.

  10. David
    1:22 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    Cowherd once stated on his radio program that Calipari should have been with D. Rose to insure it was him taking his ACTs…what Cowherd failed to realize is that would have been a recruiting violation… Cowherd used to be a lowly KGW (NBC affiliate in Portland, OR) sportscaster and I loathed him then… nothing has changed my opinion of him; his arrogance and ego are only matched by his vapidity

  11. 8 Banners
    6:44 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    I know some people who are related to D Willis. I’m hearing he may ask for his release as soon as school is out. I hope he doesn’t but wouldn’t blame him.

    • Megan
      9:55 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      What relation?

    • RP's Facelift
      5:06 pm April 15, 2014 Permalink

      This is Monday morning QB but I thought Willis never looked very happy regardless of what happened. I hope he will stay and help with team building. Look at Polson.

  12. BurnerTurner5
    7:21 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    If Dakari comes back that should mean that the incoming freshmen get limited playing time. That’s the way it is supposed to work. As for Willis where would that leave him? I’m with you 8 Banners. He might be better off transferring. When is he going to get any serious playing time?

  13. Lexington 3
    7:57 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    So does this mean that free-spirit Willie can change his hair color a few times throughout the season next year without half of BBN flipping out?

    • Michael
      10:18 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

      No. Or was this a rhetorical question?

  14. j a brooks
    8:19 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    Cowherd can be obnoxious but he was joking yesterday to get a rise out of BBN. He likes Cal and likes that UK gets NBA talent. He said:

    “Ill ask coach cal one question and be done or ill ask him about Shabazz Napier anf he wont have an answer.”

  15. clint
    8:31 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    Real good post Matt. U haven’t lost your touch. Hope the twins stay put also. If they do look out world.

  16. UKfanNKY
    8:57 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    GREAT news on Willie and Marcus!! Sad to hear about Montrell Custis changing his comment from the CATS to Bama he could have come into KY as a starter I’m sure, good luck with PT at Bama.
    GO CATS!!!

  17. rahrah
    9:16 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    So Marcus Lee returning is official? Seemed to be mentioned as an afterthought. Love the guy! Makes that statement about our front line being less athletic very questionable. Dang, that O’Reilly interview went off on a strange tangent, right? What an A-hat.

  18. DublDownDrew
    9:54 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    I love Cal even more for not going on Colin Cowcrap’s show!