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March 18, 2013

Which Wildcats will join “The Return?”

by @ 8:35 pm. Filed under Recruiting



With the season coming to a close in the next few weeks (Please God don’t end tomorrow), the make-up of next year’s team starts to take the main focus. We all know about the incoming freshmen ready to take college basketball by storm, but the real question is who decides to stay another year from this team. There are a ton of factors playing towards convincing many of the freshmen to stay for their sophomore year. This season has clearly bothered every single one of these players, and a redemption season next year is certainly helping our cause to keep them in Lexington. The draft stock of everyone except Cauley-Stein and Noel has been plummeting. Let’s go player by player on their chances of returning:

Nerlens Noel- Noel is a sure-fire top 5 draft pick next year and rightfully so. The probability of his return all hinges on his rehabilitation of his knee. If he starts to get behind or sees complications, he could make a return to Kentucky next year. Personally, I hope he has no complications and can enter the draft because he deserves that. The only other factor with Noel is that he wanted a national title more than anyone else on this team. It is unlikely, but the draw of cutting down the nets after winning the national title (I’m staring at you Tom Crean) could help sway Noel. RETURN STATUS: HIGHLY UNLIKELY


Willie Cauley-Stein- Cauley Stein has really caught the eye of NBA scouts since his entrance into the starting rotation. He has a defensive presence just below Noel that has caught the eye of everyone who has watched him. He has all of the things you can’t teach a player, but his lack of offensive skills and Game IQ are the drawbacks for WCS. Combine that with his horrendous free throw shooting as we all know very well, and it becomes tough for a scout to envision him on an NBA rotation next year. If he enters the draft, he will go in the Top 15 because there is always a place for 7 footers in the NBA draft. However, Willie would be highly unlikely to see the NBA floor as a rookie. He would probably spend most of his time in the D League. Can Cal convince him a year at UK is better than the D League? I really hope so because the triple threat of having WCS, Lee, and Johnson as interchangeable pieces has the basketball lover in me salivating. Still, the draw of being a possible lottery pick is tough to turn down. RETURN STATUS: UNLIKELY


Ryan Harrow- You might as well call this the “Curious Case of Ryan Harrow.” Our point guard really has no draft stock at all, but all of the rumors indicate his departure is likely. My guess is Harrow will seek a spot in one of the Euro Leagues, but it is truly unknown at this point. If 5’6″ high school player Aquille Carr can get a contract in Europe, there is no doubt Harrow can do the same. Calipari has been reaching out to point guards like Hawkins and Owootoah which furthers the idea that Harrow will be leaving. I think Harrow would thrive as a backup to Andrew Harrison next year. The pressure of being a key factor to the team’s success would be off of Harrow and that is the key to him being comfortable on the court. RETURN STATUS: DOUBTFUL 


Alex Poythress- Here is where things start to look bright for UK’s future team. Poythress is starting to look like he will be back for next year. First, his mother strongly pushes academics. If you recall, Vanderbilt was a strong draw for Poythress during his recruiting process. Aside from his family desire to further his academic progress, it is strikingly clear that Poythress needs another year to improve his game. His intensity and consistency are two factors that scouts have criticized Poythress about throughout the season. An offseason with Calipari combined with next season where he will likely be battling Julius Randle for playing time will be the best medicine to make Poythress an all-around better player. His draft stock has taken a massive hit, and he has been labeled as the frustrating player to read in the draft. RETURN STATUS: LIKELY


Archie Goodwin- It is beginning to look like Goodwin is in the same boat as Poythress. His flaws have become huge concerns for scouts, and the gradual improvement over the season has simply not been there. While everyone complains about Goodwin’s erratic drives to the basket, one of the biggest criticisms of the shooting guard is that he is simply not a good shooter at this point in his career. His three point shooting was scarce to put it likely this year. To be brutally honest, what good is shooting guard in the NBA if he can’t truly shoot the basketball? Goodwin needs a year to work on his jump shot and overall basketball IQ to prove he is not reckless on offense. I think he is starting to realize how badly he needs to work on these factors. RETURN STATUS: LIKELY


Kyle Wiltjer- I know it seems weird even throwing his name into this discussion. It’s no secret that Wiltjer is miles away from the next level because of his speed and defensive struggles. Why am I bringing him up in this post?

Obviously this is a rumor, but that is news actually starts. For now, take this with a grain of salt. That being said, this UK Recruiting Twitter account has a pretty strong track record in the past. I hope Wiltjer does not transfer because I would love to see him enter his role as a strictly three point shooter next year like the championship. RETURN STATUS:  HIGHLY LIKELY

We have a monster class coming in next year. The freshman are so strong that I do not even see Goodwin or Poythress starting next year. However, that duo staying would provide the greatest benefit for everyone’s games. Archie Goodwin would improve his game drastically if he had to battle the Harrisons and James Young everyday in practice. Assuming we get Julius Randle, Poythress would finally have a person in on the team that would push him to play at his highest level every day. I know it’s been a rough year, but next year is looking beyond beautiful Cats fans.

Follow me to the promised Land: @JayHochKSR

13 Responses to “Which Wildcats will join “The Return?””

  1. Leroy Jenkins Says:

    I liked how you put TL;DR at the end of each name. Really makes reading this website worthy. I hate reading.

  2. kentuckyjoe Says:

    What is TL;DR?

  3. Jay Hochstetler Says:

    I’m glad somebody else brought it up because I have been staring at that part in a confused state.

  4. Big O Says:

    Great post! Basing your theory on good sound info. Really enjoyed this post. Would love to WCS return but like you I think he goes on to play for pay. Wiljter would prosper next season as you said. More od the same role as last season.

  5. kentuckyjoe Says:

    Good analysis and piece. Like almost everyone I hope they all come back. I can see NN returning. He can rehab slowly as there would be plenty of help at the center position. The key is not to rush this knee back into action and he could bring it along just fine in Lexington. And I think he is a good student and doesn’t mind ‘booking’. That aspect alone makes a lot of players leave school; they’re not thrilled with having to book. There are other reasons to return but the big reason to leave is $$$. I’m just gonna hope he decides to pass on the $$$ for one more year.

    And we need Ryan Harrow back. And he needs to come back. And he needs to compete hard for his position and playing time. In so doing he would become a really strong person. I doubt that there would be any tougher situations to face in his future. Whatever would come his way he would be ready for it.

    I agree with all of your thoughts and assessments.

  6. Ukfan43 Says:

    I think Archie and Poythress staying would be the best thing for the team next year. Having a strong work ethic to emulate throughout the season was something that was missing this year.

    If Wiltjer were to transfer, where would he go? It would probably be a huge mistake for him to go!

  7. Tom Blevins Says:

    Jon Hood wasn’t mentioned. I know Coach Calipari said he’s getting his degree, but he does have a year of elgibility left. I personally would like to see him come back, but if he does decide to move on, I wish him the best at whatever he does in life.

  8. chris Says:

    I think Harrow gets booted, Noel jumps, WCS thinks about it, but comes back to thrive in a massive huge front line, Archie will have to go, too many wings coming in for him to accept backup role, KW may redshirt and work on conditioning and strength, and AP is big question. He isn’t a true small forward and undersized as power foward and finding time next year will be difficult

    good dilema to have, so next year may be a increadiable season


  9. truecat Says:

    Noel will doing rehab all sring and summer witch put him behind so it’s best for him go to pro. Harrow, Goodin, Poythress and Wiltjer will loose more than half their playing. they need to go. WCS got a good chaces to start or get a lot of playing time. It will be good for ky and him to stay so he can work on his game

  10. UKforever Says:

    Best case we keep Noel and Willie the rest goes .Hood and polson will get there degrees and no playing time next year.Alex and Harrow are cancer to any team they will play for that said bye bye.Goodwin gets but gets out of control I just don’t see playing for him if we get anyone else I would love see any of the three who remaining we still could get for next years team .Kyle W needs to go somewhere else he is just to slow to play at this lever and his shot isn’t dropping like before .
    Time to remove the cancer from this team so it doesn’t affect what we have coming in and causing problems.

  11. asdf Says:

    I would be excited to see Archie back next year. I see him as another Keith Bogans. Like Archie, he was a big guard who didn’t always understand how to best use his body to best effect, negating his own natural advantages. But next year, Archie will be a whole other player. And he’s big enough that he should be able to play the “3” alongside the Harrisons.

  12. asdf Says:

    7, I suspect that Hood’s future depends on how many recruits we end up with. If there’s a spot, I bet he will be back. But if we add Randle and Wiggins, then that may take his scholarship.

  13. bbr Says:

    Wiltjer is not going anywhere. His sister is coming to UK on a volleyball scholarship. Family is considering relocating to Lexington

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