When Kentucky’s basketball season came to an abrupt end at the hands of Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT, the speculation began to swirl who would stay and who would go. Archie Goodwin was the most outspoken by saying anyone on the team (besides Noel) who thinks they are ready is delusional. His delusional thinking has his name in the NBA Draft, while Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein turned down the millions to return to school. Goodwin’s delusional thinking may have him going late in the first round, well out of the NBA lottery picks. Alex Poythress was projected just inside the lottery in the mid to late teens of the first round. Besides Noel, Cauley Stein probably had the most reasons to head for the riches of the NBA with his draft projections. Why did they stay?
For Cauley-Stein, the draft projections were too wide for him to jump ship and leave the ‘Cats. Some had him projected in the Top-10, others had him later in the middle, and some had him just outside of the lottery. Basically, that’s the whole first round he was projected in. The risk was too great for Cauley-Stein to leave and end up in a bad situation. Another driving force behind his commitment to stay another year was how last season ended. Cauley-Stein and Poythress were apart of the #1 recruiting class that was supposed to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Davis, MKG, and Marquis Teague. Cauley-Stein was left with a bad taste in his mouth, and wants to remedy that situation and be a leader for all the new guys coming in. Nerlens Noel said today he believes Cauley-Stein will dominate college basketball next year.
Alex Poythress showed a few glimpses of the player he can become. In an early season matchup against Duke, Poythress was the man-child that everyone expected him to be. Other times, he was barely on the stat sheet. The untapped potential in Alex Poythress is a good reason to return to the ‘Cats. If he cannot produce the way he is capable of doing on the college level, how would he have managed to do so as a pro? Poythress said it best when he said leaving school meant getting a job. If you’re not ready, you won’t succeed. Poythress’ family was also a huge influence, and always has been. His mom is a strong believer in his education, and his twin sister is also a student at UK. Alex Poythress reminds me so much of Terrence Jones and his development as a player. I hope we get the same results from Poythress as we did with Jones.
Poythress and Cauley-Stein will be a vital part of the successes next year’s team will have. They are too good and too deep not to have success. Being successful will be expected, being special will be another challenge. Like last year’s team proved, you can have all the talent. If you don’t have the bond, brotherhood, and togetherness, you won’t achieve your ultimate goals. Everyone’s ultimate goal is to hang #9, Poythress and WCS will be keys to doing just that.