The NBA mandates a Rookie Transition Program for all the newcomers in the latest draft class to attend. This program was created in 1986, and is the longest running and most extensive support system in professional sports and provides an assortment of educational and developmental programs. Each September, each rookie takes part in the six-day seminar that gives them an idea of what being a professional athlete will be like as they transition into their new jobs.
The NBA has named former Kentucky Wildcat Archie Goodwin as their MVP of the event. While this award has nothing to do with his basketball abilities, it echoes the character and maturity of one of the youngest players in this year’s rookie class. Fellow rookie and Minnesota Timberwolves 1st round pick, Shabazz Muahmmad was reportedly expelled from the same program. Muhammad was caught with an unauthorized female visitor in his hotel room. He will be fined and be required to retake the course with the 2014 NBA Draft Class. Unlike Muhammad, Goodwin excelled with the program and acted like a professional.
The Suns have been impressed with Archie Goodwin since his pre-draft workouts. Goodwin was a highly regarded recruit coming out of Little Rock, Ark. His tenacity to attack the rim and his opponents earned him plenty of collegian options. He wound up choosing to be apart of the Kentucky Wildcats’ No.1 ranked recruiting class and became their leading scorer. Kentucky’s season was plagued with injuries and a lack of chemistry. The Wildcats suffered through their regular season slate winning enough games to keep themselves in the conversation for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. After losing starting center and fellow NBA Draft pick Nerlens Noel suffered a torn ACL against Florida in February, Kentucky’s postseason became very much in doubt. The Wildcats could only muster an NIT bid and lost in the first round as the No.1 overall seed to Robert Morris. Goodwin’s aggressive style of play was always questioned and critiqued as poor decision making. Goodwin was never viewed as a player that improved or learned from his mistakes during his time in Lexington. This, and his poor shooting performances at the NBA Draft Combine raised a lot of red flags.
After Kentucky’s loss to Robert Morris, Archie Goodwin said if anyone on that team (excluding Noel) thought they were ready for the NBA, consider themselves delusional. Goodwin’s comments made his entry into the NBA Draft controversial and he was not expected to be picked in the 1st round. When Phoenix chose him at No. 29, they may have grabbed the biggest steal of the draft. Goodwin averaged 13.3 points per game in the NBA Summer League, playing with a fearless attitude and finishing at the rim over fellow players drafted above him. The open-style of the summer league was ideal for Goodwin’s style of play. His basketball IQ was no longer questioned as he kept impressing the Suns coaching staff. Being only 18 years old, he has a lot to learn but I believe he really has a good head on his shoulders. Phoenix fans have a lot to be excited for with Goodwin as he develops in their system. Kentucky fans will be proud of their former ‘Cat as he matures and achieves his dreams.