By LARRY VAUGHT
Ed Isaacson (@nbadraftblog on Twitter) evaluates players nationally for NBADraftBlog.com. He predicted early this season that UK’s highly-touted freshmen might struggle more than some projected and wasn’t as high on Kentucky having as many 2014 NBA draft first-round picks as many anticipated. With the start of NCAA Tournament play only four weeks away, Isaacson offered these insights on the Wildcats from a NBA analyst’s perspective.
Question: Since you noted two months ago that UK’s freshmen lacked many fundamental basketball skills, are you surprised at all that UK has not developed into a dominant team?
Isaacson: “Not surprised at all. It’s a process that takes time and there’s a lot of catching up to do. When you add to it that the sophomores, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress, are also still working on developing the fundamentals, it was bound to be a longer growing process than many would have hoped.”
Question: Even though many still project Willie Cauley-Stein as a possible lottery pick, has his recent demise made that possible? What must he do to put himself back in the lottery, or maybe the first round?
Isaacson: “Cauley-Stein’s play certainly wasn’t great recently, but any team that was possibly picking him this year certainly wasn’t doing it with the idea of playing him a lot quickly. What appeals to NBA teams is his length, ability to block shots, and run the floor. Many teams will take a player with that base and hope to work on the other parts of the game over the first two years. If he was to come out, I still wouldn’t be wholly surprised if he was taken near the end of the lottery, and almost certainly think he is in the first round. Though, for the rest of this season, and if he does declare, through pre-draft workouts, teams want to see the effort. No one expects him to be polished, but they want to see him out there working hard.”
Next: Isaacson’s insights on Aaron and Andrew Harrison.