Willie Cauley-Stein (Junior, Kentucky, @ThewillieCS15)
Power Forward-Center/7’0/240/Age: 21
Product of…Olathe Northwest (Olathe, KS)
Quick Stats (as of March 3rd)
9.1 points/game, 6.4 rebounds/game, 0.9 assists/game
Willie Cauley-Stein is a rare breed amongst college basketball prospects. Projected as a lottery pick in the two previous drafts, WCS decided to stay at Kentucky to improve both his game and draft stock. And boy, did it pay off! A year ago, he was considered as a backend lottery pick who would likely start his career surrounded by veterans on an average team. Now, some insiders are projecting him as high as top-5 come June.
But what’s the reason for the change of heart? Well, to start, WCS’s athletic ability is top-notch for a center…along the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Tyson Chandler. His instincts and feel for the game have improved over the course of his three years, enough where completely forcing the issue is very uncommon these days. WCS still needs to develop a 15-footer and a couple of go-to moves around the basket. But even if he doesn’t, Cauley-Stein still has the potential to become a great defensive presence and pick and roll finisher in the Association.
-Ridiculous athleticism, combined with a decent motor creates consistent activity on both ends of the floor; dives for loose balls, always in the mix for offensive rebounds
-Very good leaper, not afraid to finish over the top of opponents; excellent timing on blocks (sends back shots with authority)
-Tough, hard-nosed player; does not force the issue much
-Offensive ability; almost nonexistent post game & mid-range shooting
-Very foul prone; has a hard time staying on the floor at times
-Poor free throw shooter
Depending on whom you ask, Cauley-Stein’s potential is either 2015 DeAndre Jordan or Dan Gadzuric, a skilled center who was never fully able to put it all together. A seasoned college player, WCS will almost certainly come in and make a strong impact on someone’s roster next year.
Though his initial contributions will likely come from energy plays, he could eventually be one of the top overall players in the class five years from now.
NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler
**UPDATE** Willie Cauley-Stein is now (legally) Willie Trill Cauley-Stein. That is all…