15 - Willie Cauley-Stein

7-0, 242 Center
Kentucky Junior
08/18/93 (26.3 yrs)
Olathe, KS
High School
Olathe Northwest
Team Site Profile
Jump Shot
NBA Ready
Post Skills

NBA Comparison: Chris Anderson/Samuel Dalembert

Strengths: Cauley-Stein is a player who is both extremely gifted from a measurements standpoint, but also in terms of athleticism … At the Kentucky Combine he measured 7’.25’’ in shoes, with a 7’2’’ wingspan, and a great 9’2’’ standing reach … He also is extremely nimble, and an explosive and quick leaper … Willie also has tremendous defensive abilities, excelling at hedging on pick and rolls, as well as protecting the rim … He’s seen a dip in shot blocking numbers due to his use as a pick and roll defender, and  Karl Anthony Towns being used as the primary paint enforcer, but as a sophomore WCS blocked 2.9 shots per game as Kentucky’s primary rim protector … His physical tools should allow these elite defensive traits to translate to the NBA level … Cauley-Stein has the potential to be able to guard NBA wing positions at a high level, at least early in his NBA career … He is also a strong finisher around the rim, and an ideal roll target in the NBA. His junior season at Kentucky he shot 72.5% at the rim, and he’s an active player on the offensive glass which helped him rack up 40 put backs in 38 games … He had a number of highlight plays in which he went over and through defenders for highlight finishes at the rim … Although not a major offensive threat, he has improved his free throw shooting every season starting from an anemic .372% as a freshman, to a significantly better .617% as a junior (granted 61% remains below average) … This work has also shown up in his ability to knock down short jump shots in the half court game … He also has a decent jump hook which could potentially be honed over time … Cauley-Stein is also very productive in his time on the court … Due to UK’s depth he played just 25.8 minutes per game, but his per 40 minute averages are 14.1 ppg 10 rpg 2.6 bpg and 1.8 spg …

Weaknesses: Willie is very much a defensive oriented player, and a guy who really doesn’t project into much of an offensive contributor  … His work at the free throw line has shown some promise, but he projects mostly as a lob finisher, roll target, and garbage man in an NBA offense … His touch and shooting are a real weakness in terms of game speed … He’s also had some ups and downs over his career in terms of focus … For a player with such immense phyical gifts, it’s baffling that he wasn’t a more productive player early in his college career … Feel for the game is a major question mark … WCS has exhibited more poise, and fire as a junior, but he still has shown times in which he’s seemed a little passive or not 100% into the game … WCS has the feel of an athlete who is becoming a basketball player, and while the intrigue with his defensive abilities is apparent, he remains a project for the NBA level … Continued improvement and growth in terms of focus will be needed in order to play a long 82 game NBA season … 

Overall: Willie Cauley-Stein is a player you can plug in your system in order to play high level defense, and provide both versatility guarding perimeter players and the ability to guard the rim … His one side of the ball type of play will cause him to be drafted below players that have two way potential, but he has the ability to be very good, or possibly elite as a defender if he can harness his improved metal focus, and grow as a professional …

Notes: Measured 7’.25’’ in shoes, with a 7’2’’ wingspan and a 9’2’’ standing reach while weighing in at 240 lbs at the Kentucky Combine. He also measured a 37’’ max vertical and a 12’3’’ max reach. SEC All-Defensive Team 2013,14,15. 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. 2015 First Team All-American.

David Ray 4/6/15

Strengths: Very fluid… Light on his feet… At 7-feet 1/2" with a 7′-foot-2 1/2" wingspan, possesses great height  and length … Has very good hands … Can catch tough passes and shows toughness, something that was likely developed during his time as a wide receiver on his high school football team … Plays within himself; does not force the issue … An above average shot blocker; does a good job of seeking shot blocking opportunities. God timing and shows the ability not to bite on fakes and get into foul trouble … A decent rebounder … Has a good "nose for the ball"; due to his size gets himself many opportunities for put back dunks and tip ins… The big man has soft hands and potential to improve his scoring, displaying solid shooting touch …

Weaknesses: Very raw … Seems lost in isolation post play, and would be very well-served to develop a few go to moves … Although he is a fluid athlete, at times has trouble keeping his balance; this likely goes hand-in-hand with his lack of a post game … Must work on keeping his butt down, lower center of gravity … A poor free throw shooter, but this seems to be a confidence issue more than an issue relating to physical tools or form… Some question his motor and focus …

Notes: Measured 7’0.5 (in shoes) 240 lbs, with a 7’2.5 wingspan at the 2013 Nike Big Man Skills Academy  … Was an accomplished wide receiver on his high school football team (and if you have not seen video of the 7-footer on the gridiron, it is worth a look) … Was part of Kentucky’s talented 2012 recruiting class, but was somewhat overshadowed by teammate and top draft prospect Nerlens Noel during his freshman campaign; he is likely to see significantly more playing time in his sophomore season… After some preliminary "testing of the draft waters" in 2013, Cauley-Stein chose to return to Kentucky for a second year, citing inconsistent information relating to his draft position

Drew Wolin 10/21/13

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