By LARRY VAUGHT
Count Florida junior forward Will Yeguete as one who expects big things from Kentucky sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein next season.
“I think he did a good job defensively this year. He was a factor. He was blocking shots, tipping the balls. I think he did a really good job overall,” said Yeguete. “The first time we played them, he didn’t really play that much and do anything to impact the game because (Nerlens) Noel was playing all the time. The next time he was starting and played more minutes and was a big factor in the game. I was impressed.
“He is really athletic. I think his timing is great. Blocking shots at the right time. He knows when to jump. He has size and when the guards are coming inside, he is really aggressive and defensively was just there. When you have a 7-footer in the lane, he will impact your shot and did a good job doing that every time I saw him play.”
Yeguete also appreciates Cauley-Stein’s demeanor on the court.
“I think he plays the game the right way. He had a little foul trouble against us, but when he came back in he was ready to go. He doesn’t say anything. He just plays the right way. I love the way he plays,” the Florida junior said. “He was only a freshman, so his offense is a work in process. He affects the game more defensively than offensively right now. They had a lot of scorers on their team and I think his coach would want him to be the defensive presence that they need without Noel and not worry about offense. I think he did a good job at that, but I know his offense will be a lot better by next year because you can tell he’s a hard worker.”
Yeguete had no idea Cauley-Stein was an all-state receiver in high school.
“That is funny. He must be really fast. That would be fun to watch him on the football field,” Yeguete said. “But he was good in basketball, too. Both he and Noel are good shot blockers. I don’t know if you can compare them. You saw Noel play more games, but they both change the game a lot and he (Cauley-Stein) could really be special next year.”
Kentucky teammate Alex Poythress tends to agree about that.
“Willie has done incredible from the day he got here. He has just got better every day,” Poythress said. “I ain’t never seen a 7-footer that moves like him, jumps like him. He is strong, He is just incredible out there. He has been great friend and great teammate. And you know next year, based on how he improved this year, that he could just be dominant.”