Originally written on In The Neutral Zone  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Willie Cauley-Stein School: Kentucky HT/WT: 7’0’’ 244 Birthday: 8/18/93 (Age: 19) Class: Freshman Primary Position: C Secondary Position: PF Overall Ranking: 14 Position Ranking: 4 (School Bio) (Stats) Scouting Report Strengths:                                                                             Weaknesses: + Shot Blocking + Explosive Athlete + Length + Developing Offensive Game – Strength Overview: Coming into the season as Kentucky’s lowest ranked recruit, Willie Cauley-Stein has surprised a lot of people with his play. He is a legit 7-footer with excellent athleticism, and his length allows him to be an absolute monster in the paint. His combination of explosive leaping ability and ridiculous length allow him to block or alter a majority of his opponent’s shots in the lane, and he is currently No. 3 in the SEC in blocks per game with an average of 2.1. On offense, Cauley-Stein has displayed exceptional touch around the rim and is leading the SEC in field goal percentage. The most impressive aspect of his offensive game is the development he has made as a jump shooter. Cauley-Stein has added a consistent 12-foot jumper to his arsenal, making him a matchup nightmare in every facet of the game. According to hoop-math.com, Cauley-Stein is shooting 39 percent on mid-range j’s this season, and leads Kentucky in the category. The major weakness in Cauley-Stein’s game is his overall lack of strength. In order to bang down low at the next level, he needs to add 15-20 pounds of muscle to his frame. Furthermore, Cauley-Stein is very inexperienced, and has played limited minutes as Nerlens Noel‘s right-hand man. With the Noel injury, Cauley-Stein has had a chance to step up, and has played his best basketball of the season in Noel’s absence. It is amazing how many scouting services simply missed on Cauley-Stein. ESPN and Rivals each had him as the No. 40 overall recruit, while Scout had him as low as No. 75, and the 14th player at his position. It speaks volumes to the scouting ability on John Calipari and his staff that they were able to look past the rankings, and find a true diamond in the rough. Calipari says it best: “Willie was the most pleasant surprise of our offseason workouts. He had no idea how good he could be until he got to campus. Now that he’s had time to put on weight and gain confidence, we’re seeing a different player who understands he can play with anyone in the country.” Overall, Cauley-Stein has been one of the biggest surprises in the 2013 NBA Draft class. Currently ranked No. 14 overall in the TCT Top 100, he has length and explosive athleticism to make his way into the Top 10 of June’s draft. With the imminent arrival of Dakari Johnson, and the possible commitment of Julius Randle, look for Willie Cauley-Stein to be the latest one-and-done player out of Lexington. If he does decide to depart UK after the season, look for Cauley-Stein to be a surefire lottery pick, with the ability to crack the Top 10. I expect him to go in the 8-12 pick range of 2013 NBA Draft, and join Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin as lottery selections. Signature Skills: Eraser Player Updates: When Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL on February 12th, Cauley-Stein’s moment had arrived. The 7-footer has taken full advantage of the spotlight, setting career-highs in four different statistical categories over the five game span. Over the last four games, Cauley-Stein has averaged 13 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.2 blocks, while shooting 70.9 percent from the field. Against Vanderbilt on February 20th, he put up a career-highs of 20 points and 8 field goals made. In the very next game, an overtime victory versus Missouri, Cauley-Stein blocked a career-high 7 shots. In his last game, at Arkansas on March 2nd, Cauley-Stein posted the third double-double of his career, and attempted a career-high 8 free-throw attempts. If he continues his dominant play into the NCAA Tournament, Cauley-Stein has the ability to continue to ascend NBA Draft boards, and make his way into the Top 10 of June’s draft. Highlights: Biography: College 2012-2013 – Freshman High School Hometown: Olathe (Kan.) School: Northwest High School (Kan.) AAU Team: Spice Mo Rankings: ESPN - #40 in the nation Rivals - #40 in the nation Scout - #75 in the nation KEY MATCHUPS: 1) 11/9/12 – vs. Maryland – Alex Len Stats: 28 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-6 FG, 2-4 FT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 4 BLK, 2 TO, 2 PF 2) 12/29/12 – at #4 Louisville – Gorgui Dieng Stats: 23 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-4 FG, 8 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK, 3 TO, 0 PF 3) 2/12/13 – at #7 Florida – Patric Young Stats: 20 MIN, 10 PTS, 5-9 FG, 6 REB, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 3 PF GAMES SCOUTED: 1) 11/9/12 – Maryland vs. Kentucky (Opening Night at Barclays Center) 2) 11/13/12 – #9 Duke vs. #3 Kentucky 3) 11/29/15 – #8 Kentucky vs. Notre Dame 4) 12/1/12 – Baylor vs. #8 Kentucky (1st Home Loss in Calipari Era) 5) 1/30/13 – Texas A&M vs. Kentucky (Elston Turner Drops 40 on Wildcats) 6) 1/15/13 – Tennessee vs. Kentucky 7) 1/27/13 – LSU vs. Kentucky 8) 1/29/13 – Kentucky vs. #23 Ole Miss 9) 2/2/13 – Kentucky vs. Texas A&M 10) 2/5/13 – South Carolina vs. Kentucky 11) 2/12/13 – #25 Kentucky vs. #7 Florida (Nerlens Noel Injured) Statistical Summary MPG PPG FG% 3P% RPG BPG SPG Cauley-Stein’s Freshman Year Stats 22.4 8.4 64.3 00 5.9 2.1 0.8
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