Kentucky Wildcats Basketball 2013-2014 Preview: #15 Willie Cauley-Stein

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#15 WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN
SOPHOMORE – C
7’1 244
SPEARVILLE, KANSAS
OLATHE NORTHWEST HS

BEFORE UK:
Willie Cauley-Stein attended Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas. Believe it or not, Willie may have been known more for his football success than his basketball success. Standing in a 7 foot 1 and playing wide receiver, you can probably bet he was a dominating force due to his height. In 2011, Cauley-Stein caught 57 passes for 1,140 yards and for 14 touchdowns. Pretty impressive. But that’s not what he thought was best for his career. He was also a star on the basketball court as we all know. In High School he averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. He was rated high in the basketball rankings at 32 by ESPN and 39th by Rivals.com. Not exactly high considering what players Calipari had been getting but Calipari liked what he saw. Offered. He accepted.

AS A WILDCAT:
Last year was Cauley-Stein’s freshman year, and he turned some heads. For the most part Willie was overshadowed by Nerlens Noel. Noel, a sure starter took most of the spotlight when it came to the big men. Willie would start some games. Some games he came off the bench. When he was playing he was very good. But on February 12th of this year that all changed for Willie. Nerlens Noel went down with an ACL injury. All eyes were now on Willie.

Though, the injury to Noel was tough, Cauley-Stein embraced the starting center role. He averaged 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game. He posted career highs in rebounds (12) and blocks (7) against Missouri last season and had a career high 20 points in a win over Vanderbilt. Even though those were some low averages, you have to remember that half of the season Willie was coming off the bench. He still managed to be projected as a 1st round draft pick. He had some unfinished business left. He’s back.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2013-2014:
Willie Cauley-Stein will be one of the main focuses this year for the Kentucky Wildcats. He’s improved in the offseason. Has gotten stronger, smarter. Coach Cal had this to say

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.

Cauley-Stein is one of the more experienced players on this team. He needs to be a huge impact this year. I believe Willie is the key to success this year.
My prediction: 9.6 points, 10.2 rebounds. 1.9 blocks and 1.5 assists per game

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