The Kentucky Wildcats were already going to have a loaded frontcourt next year with sophomores-to-be Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee joined by incoming freshmen and McDonald's All-Americans Karl Towns and Trey Lyles. The rich got even richer on Monday when Willie Cauley-Stein tweeted that he's forgoing the 2014 NBA Draft to return to school for his junior season.
I'm proud to say I'm coming back for my junior year. I still have an empty spot to fulfill and in no rush to leave the best fans in the USA!— Willie Cauley-Stein (@THEwillieCS15) April 14, 2014
Cauley-Stein was projected as a first-round pick by most outlets and a lottery selection by some. The 7-foot, 244-pounder was pegged to go No. 12 overall by Draft Express. He was the third center selected in Draft Express' latest mock behind Kansas' Joel Embiid (No. 2) and Jusuf Nurkić (No. 11), one of two European players projected to go in the first round.
Cauley-Stein was ticketed to become a first-rounder based on size and athleticism, not skill, so it's not like a return to college comes without basis. He was a former high school wide receiver who has drawn comparisons to Tyson Chandler, but his interior offensive game is far from refined.
Cauley-Stein injured his ankle early in the first half of Kentucky's Sweet 16 victory over Louisville, and he did not play again in the NCAA Tournament. The biggest subplot of Cauley-Stein's decision: can John Calipari find enough playing time for all of the future NBA prospects in his rotation?