Is Willie Cauley-Stein ready for the NBA?

04/07/2015 05:07 PM

At the University of Kentucky, it’s a tradition unlike any other.

When most collegiate teams are worried about how much their players will improve during the off-season, John Calipari and UK just want to know if they’re even coming back.

Coach Cal estimates he’ll lose more than half a dozen players to the NBA Draft this year.

“We could lose seven guys,” Calipari said during the news conference after his selection into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday. “Seven is a definitely possibility.”

Calipari projects the surest bets to leave are Willie Cauley-Stein, a junior, and the sophomore Harrison twins.

Freshman All-American Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the front runners for the top overall pick, and most draft predictors currently have Trey Lyles slated for the first round or late lottery.

Fellow underclassmen Dakari Johnson (sophomore) and Devin Booker (freshman) are still on the fence.

Calipari does expect freshman point guard Tyler Ulis to be back, along with frontcourt players Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee, saying he texted Ulis on Sunday, “I’m going to build a team. Get your guys and let’s do this again. Let’s rerun this.”

There’s always a possibility that some players will surprise and return, like Cauley-Stein and both the Harrison did last season, but that’s been more a rarity than a trend at UK during Cal’s tenure.

The KSTV crew take upon itself the responsibility to make the pending decision for each player in question, starting with the surest bet to leave — Willie Cauley-Stein.

He’s big. He’s athletic. But is he really ready?

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