Kentucky Basketball: Which Freshman Starter Most Needs Another Year in School?
Despite its recent improvement over the last few games, there's no doubt that this University of Kentucky basketball team has struggled more than any other during John Calipari's time as head coach.
While that may obviously translate to frustration and even a little bit of panic, it also probably means that we won't see as many Wildcats go to the NBA this year as we have in the the past three years.
The following is a look at which of the freshmen in UK's starting lineup most need to stay at school and develop their game another year before going pro.
All stats via ESPN.com
4. Nerlens Noel
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Forget about it.
As much as the Big Blue Nation would love to have him around for another year, there is no way Nerlens Noel will be back for a second year.
As the season has gone on, Noel has proven to be an even better defender than advertised; he's even on pace to beat Anthony Davis' single season block record (via RealGM.com).
Combine that with his constant motor and untapped offensive potential, and you have a player that NBA GMs will be tripping over themselves to pick up in the first round of the NBA draft.
3. Willie Cauley-Stein
USA TODAY Sports
Before being slowed by knee surgery a few weeks ago (per Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader) Willie Cauley-Stein was giving the Wildcats the tough, hard-nosed play near the basket that they desperately needed.
The former high school football standout has a great nose for the ball, plays excellent defense and is a tough assignment for any frontcourt defender. He has also (mostly) overcome his early season propensity for turning the ball over. If it wasn't for his terrible free-throw shooting (34.2 percent), the kid would be unstoppable.
He is still a very raw talent with a lot of work left to do, but he's also definitely good enough to make NBA GMs consider picking him up in the first round.
2. Alex Poythress
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Inconsistency is the name of the game when you're talking about Alex Poythress. There will often be a streak of games where he looks unstoppable followed by a few where he is virtually non-existent.
His offensive abilities are also so multifaceted that he (and the team) still haven't seemed to find the best way to get him the ball consistently to score.
Add to that John Calipari's criticism that he constantly gets down on himself and shies away from criticism (via KentuckySportsRadio.com), and there is no doubt that Poythress would definitely benefit from another year at UK.
1. Archie Goodwin
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
When you watch Archie Goodwin play, it can be incredibly frustrating to see someone with so much talent also be so out of control. There is no doubt that the kid has incredible scoring and ball-handling abilities, but he often forgoes those by flinging himself into the lane or taking ill-advised shots.
Goodwin also has a major issue with turning the ball over and not passing the ball when it's the best option to do so.
None of this is to say that Goodwin has done more harm than good; he is still an exceptional player and will (probably) have an excellent career in the NBA. But another year in Calipari's system and the maturity and growth that will come with it will do wonders for his draft stock.
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