With 7 guys headed to the NBA this year, and the fact that 2-3 of them could clearly use another year of college to improve their skills, the question has been raised about improvement while a college basketball player. Everyone assumes that you will get better if you stay longer in college. But in the John Calipari era, has that really played out? Below are all the guys who returned and played 2 or more seasons under Cal. Do you think they improved?
Freshman (10-11): 15.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 44.2% FG
Sophomore (11-12): 12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 50.0% FG
Jones is an interesting case because his stats went down during his sophomore season, but that is largely due to the fact that the talent around him increased. Anthony Davis hogged many of the points and rebounds Jones would have normally pulled in. But, above all else, I think we found a more MATURE Terrence Jones his 2nd year, plus he developed a better outside jump shot. A 2nd year was beneficial for him.
Freshman (10-11): 12.3 ppg, 48.7% 3FG
Sophomore (11-12): 13.7 ppg, 46.6% 3FG
Lamb was much like Jones is that statistically, he didn’t see any drastic improvement or decline is any category. But you have to say the publicity from the title run, plus a more mature Lamb was a benefit for him. He seemed to develop a better driving game, finishing in transition much better. Did a 2nd year actually help his draft stock? Maybe not. But his game did improve. And he was a significant bonus to the Cats winning a title.
Freshman (11-12): 5.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 43.2% 3FG
Sophomore (12-13): 10.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 36.7% 3FG
Wiltjer got slightly better his 2nd season at Kentucky, but the problem was he needed to take a starring role with UK and just was not able to hold that responsibility. His rebounding got better but still wasn’t up to snuff with his size. He defense remained a problem spot and he didn’t shoot the ball well. It was a tough year for Wiltjer in Year 2 and he ended up transferring.
Freshman (12-13): 11.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Sophomore (13-14): 5.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Junior (14-15): 5.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Obviously Poythress’ season was cut short by his knee injury this year but in his 8 games this season, I don’t know if we saw a ton of improvement from Alex. In the Bahamas, he might have been the Cats best player. He will once again be a starter in 2015-16 and could potentially be the focal point of the offense. It will be the key year to determine how much Alex will have improved in his 4 years, assuming the injury won’t limit him.
Freshman (12-13): 8.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg
Sophomore (13-14): 6.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.9 bpg
Junior (14-15): 8.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg
What is interesting about Willie is that anybody who watched him for the past 3 years could see how much he improved. But his stats really don’t reflect that. That is likely due to his minutes decreasing this year and the fact that Willie was never a great offensive player. I think he just took more advantage of his skills on the offensive floor by running the floor better and finishing lobs. Of all the players on this list, I think WCS probably improved the most.
Freshman (13-14): 10.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 36.7% FG
Sophomore (14-15): 9.3 ppg, 3.6 apg, 37.8% FG
Andrew is close to WCS for most improvement under Calipari, but also like Willie, the stats don’t really show it. But those of us who watched him saw him develop into a very capable point guard while battling for playing time with Tyler Ulis. Andrew became a go-to guy in the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman (13-14): 13.7 ppg, 35.6% 3FG
Sophomore (14-15): 11.0 ppg, 31.6% 3FG
Aaron’s improvement is up for discussion. He shot the ball worse this year but also seemed to be the guy that Calipari leaned on the most in key situations. He hit a couple more huge shots during the year, but likely needs to develop in several areas to be a successful NBA player.
Freshman (13-14): 5.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 56.9% FG
Sophomore (14-15): 6.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 50.6% FG
Dakari certainly got in better shape this year and Cal seemed to like him late in games. His athleticism does limit him some but he definitely developed from his 1st year to his 2nd year.
Freshman (13-14): 2.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 61.9% FG
Sophomore (14-15): 2.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 64.4% FG
Lee hasn’t really seen the floor enough to determine his improvement, but he’ll definitely see the floor next year. Then we’ll know.