A bit of welcome news for your Monday morning: 2012 C Willie Cauley from Olathe, Kansas committed to the Kentucky Wildcats this morning. He becomes the second commitment in the class of 2012, joining SG Archie Goodwin. PG Ryan Harrow, a transfer from NC State, also will start playing for the Wildcats in 2012 after sitting out this season due to transfer requirements.
The news that Cauley has committed to Kentucky comes as a bit of a surprise. The most recent rumors were that Cauley had expressed a desire to stay closer to home and play for his local team, the Kansas St. Wildcats. Apparently, Cauley saw the light and realized playing for the Wildcats in Kentucky was too good an opportunity to pass up. He selected Kentucky over Kansas St., Florida, and Alabama.
Cauley gives John Calipari a much needed big man for the 2012-13 season. With Eloy Vargas graduating and Anthony Davis likely to declare for the NBA Draft, the Wildcats enter next season with only Kyle Wiltjer as a frontcourt returnee. Cauley is a long, mobile presence on the interior. While he considers himself a power forward, the 6'11" Cauley will most likely play center in college and should end up filling out to be a true "5" by the time his collegiate career is complete.
Cauley is a bit raw, and he's generally flown under the radar when it comes to mentioning the top frontcourt prospects in the nation. But a strong summer caught the attention of coaches and recruitniks alike. He's currently ranked 39th in the nation by Rivals, 27th by Scout, and 32nd by ESPNU. Furthermore, he's trending upward, exactly what you want to see for a prospect going into his senior season.
He is considered a work in progress on the offensive end and needs to bulk up to become a premiere rebounder. However, he is extremely athletic and mobile for his height. As proof, he's a stud tight end for his high school team, Olathe Northwest. At Kentucky, he should immediately make an impact on the defensive end as a paint clogger and shotblocker, and on the offensive end as a finisher on deep post entries and loose balls. With immediate playing time available in his freshman year, Cauley should become a multi-year starter for Kentucky while developing and honing his post skills under Calipari.
Congratulations to Willie Cauley on his decision, and welcome to big man to the Bluegrass!