Last night was the first scrimmage of any sorts that Big Blue Nation has gotten to witness and get an idea of what this year’s version of John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats will look like. In front of a Rupp Arena crowd of over 12,000 solid blue fans, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Julius Mays, and Nerlens Noel stepped out onto the legendary court for the first time, and they made sure to leave fans with a lasting impression of what each player’s unique abilities are.
While everyone was eagerly anticipating to see the raw but immense talent of another freshman-heavy UK squad, it was the old man of the bunch in senior guard Julius Mays who was turning heads early scoring 13 points in the first-half as he hit a multitude of jumpers, including a fade-away three-pointer off one foot with the shot clock running down. He just may be the Cats’ go-to option when looking for someone to hit a jumper in the clutch. His 13 first-half helped lead his Blue squad to a 46-38 lead at the intermission. After switching to the White squad for much of the second-half, he went 0-4 the rest of the way, so Cal need to see more of Mays before he gives him that designation.
Willie Cauley-Stein is the best big man on this team right now. Period. End of story. The Kansas native scored 14 points to go with 12 rebounds as he controlled the paint, scored in a variety of ways, and even handled the ball occasionally on the fast break.
His big-man counterpart and more highly-regarded freshman, Nerlens Noel, had an off-night that Cal contributed to a bad back Noel suffered. Still, the projected 21013 #1 overall draft pick picked up 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots as he displayed his abilities as a rim-enforcer, something that Cats will look for him to do a lot of after they lost the greatest rim-enforcer in school history in Anthony Davis to the NBA.
Freshman phenom Archie Goodwin led all scorers on the night with 32 points, but it took him 22 shots to get to. Coach Cal nearly ran out onto the floor while yelling at Archie after he threw down a crowd-pleasing dunk in the second-half. Archie told us after the game that Calipari was upset because he’d kept it himself on the fast break, rather than pass the ball to the open Mays ahead of him. Simple freshman mistakes that he’ll earn to correct over time.