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Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein decides to return for junior year at Kentucky

Apr 14, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

While it might not be the transcendent draft it was cracked up to be at one point, this is still a pretty deep NBA Draft coming up in June.

That seems to have impacted Willie Cauley-Stein. Rather than come out this year and likely get selected late in the lottery, he has decided to return to Kentucky for another season, the university announced on Monday.

“I want to come back and have a chance to win a national championship, while also getting closer to earning my degree,” Cauley-Stein said in a released statement. “Being at the Final Four this year was special, but not being able to help my teammates on the floor was tough. I look forward to helping us get back there next year, while playing in front of the best fans in the nation.”

Cauley-Stein, a 7-foot center, would have been taken in the 11-14 range and seen as a project, said PBT’s NBA Draft expert Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld.

“Long and athletic, and has shown some nice improvement from last season when he was forced into major minutes after Noel’s knee injury,” Isaacson told PBT before the NCAA Tournament. “Great rim protector with uncanny timing on his block attempts, and he has also turned into a good defender in pick-and-roll situations. He is still very raw on the offensive end, though a lot better than he was last year. Has added a go-to post move, but his best offense comes from running the floor in transition. He was very inconsistent the last 4 or 5 weeks of this season, to the point of being benched.”

Isaacson said if he shows the same level of improvement between this season and next that he did after last season he will be a certain Top 10 pick next season.

The challenge will be it’s a crowded Kentucky front court next year, Isaacson notes, especially if Dakari Johnson is back, plus Karl Towns and Trey Lyles.

There’s a risk with going back to school for a potential lottery pick, lets hope this works out for Cauley-Stein.

  1. cantonb0und13 - Apr 14, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    Damn, I wanted the Knicks to draft him in the 1st round. Oh yeah, they don’t have a 1st round pick. Oh well, they would have probably drafted the next Ronaldo Balkman. Knicks are cursed.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      Who are you? Take of your mask and reveal yourself! My money’s on rodge1…

      • cantonb0und13 - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:32 PM

        I’m cantonbound13. I’m the guy that says everyone is a bandwagon fan. Although I root for any team that beats the Heat. So in that case, that makes me the biggest bandwagon fan on PBT. In other words, I’m a sore loser.

  2. 00maltliquor - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:05 PM

    This was supposed to be The Draft of all drafts. What’s with these foo’s? Every other year we got guys coming out that have no business coming out and when we finally could have something really special we get a handful of guys teeter-tottering or staying another year! C’mooooon son! Load it up! Don’t be stingy, lets get it crackin’!

  3. robertb655 - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Drafting guys who are seen “as a project” is way too common nowadays. Him staying in school is good for the NBA. I can’t even remember the last senior who came out, and more importantly, I can’t remember the last underclassman who came out and actually made a difference

  4. philliesblow - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    This is going to mess up Calipari’s salary cap. With all the top rated Frosh he has to hire every year he can’t afford to carry a Junior that he was expecting to leave after his 1st year.

    • icanhazblogs - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      Seems pretty unlikely that Calipari didn’t have some input into this decision with WCS. But hey, he’s just a coach of a college team and you’re a commenter on PBT. You probably able to better assess the situation from your laptop….

    • turkbox420 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      cauley-stein offered to take a pay cut in order to stay and win.

  5. pharohislife - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Jabari Parker you better not

  6. kb2408 - Apr 14, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    Reminds me of Tyson Chandler…good shot blocker, decent rebounder, limited scorer.

  7. ravenswhat - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Calipari can’t be happy about this. I see this dudes minutes going down, not up.

    • mogogo1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      Why would Calipari care? If his minutes go down, so what. Depth is something they could use given they had a tournament game deep in the second half where their bench hadn’t scored yet.

  8. campcouch - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    Smart move. He can use this upcoming year to move up in the draft. And take some courses in finance!

  9. spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Two words Willie: James McAdoo. He pulled out of the draft twice, and after being projected as late lottery as a Freshman is now projected LATE SECOND ROUND.

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