Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kentucky’s Goodwin to Enter Name in NBA Draft; Cauley-Stein, Wiltjer to Return; No Word on Poythress
Kentucky sure is going to have one crowded frontcourt next season.
The school announced Monday that freshman big man Willie Cauley-Stein and sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer will both return to campus, while freshman guard Archie Goodwin will enter his name in the NBA Draft but won’t hire an agent.
Freshman big man Nerlens Noel has yet to announce his plans, but is projected as the No. 1 pick by most people. Fellow frosh Alex Poythress has yet to announce his plans and is said to be collecting information.
DraftExpress.com currently projects Poythress as the No. 16 pick this year, and Goodwin as No. 18.
“I think Goodwin is going to go 12-22 based on upside and potential, nothing to do with the way he played this year at Kentucky,” one veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv.
He added that he thinks Poythress should return to school to develop his game.
“I think basketball-wise he needs to stay,” the scout said. “To me, he didn’t have it figured out. He’s tremendous physically, he doesn’t know what to do with what he has. He has a body like an NBA All-Star.”
The NBA Draft is June 27.
“I’m excited that Willie and Kyle have decided to return for next season,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “When we talk about a players-first program, our goal is for each player to reach his dreams. Willie and Kyle believe it is in their best interest to return to Kentucky next season to achieve those dreams, and I fully support their decisions.
“Although I really wanted Archie to return for his sophomore season, I fully support him choosing to pursue his dreams. He has the drive and desire to be great and I will continue to do everything I can to make sure he succeeds in life both on and off the court.”
Calipari has seven committed recruits, including six McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-Americans, and is expected to add shooting guard Dominique Hawkins and potentially Andrew Wiggins, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
In the frontcourt next season, Calipari will now have Cauley-Stein, Wiltjer, Julius Randle, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson and Derek Willis.
The backcourt and wing positions will include Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young and possibly Wiggins leading the way.
Calipari will have a truckload full of future NBA draft picks — as many as eight or nine, according to NBA executives — but will also have to manage expectations about playing time and roles.
“Now the coach is in charge, not the kids, because they’ll have to compete for minutes and that’s the way it should be,” the NBA scout said. “And that was not the case this year.”
Kentucky won an NCAA championship in 2012 with a blend of four freshman, two sophomores and one senior, six of whom were drafted last year.
“They’ll have an NBA team there,” the NBA scout said. “Now he’s going to have some veteran guys coming back and that’s who he had the year he won the championship.”
This incoming team will be even more loaded, but the returning players say they’re excited for the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player,” the 7-foot-1 Cauley-Stein said. “I’m also excited for the opportunity to try and win a national championship.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.