I was watching the McDonald’s All-American game the other night with the Tragic Johnson staff. And while there were a ton of athletically talented players on those rosters, there was an equal amount of bad basketball played on the United Center floor. But I’ll save that for another commentary.
Ok back to my original thought. In the midst of watching the game, I saw that the University of Kentucky had secured the commitments of 6, yes I said 6, of these All-Americans. All of these players have extremely bright futures and I’m sure more than a few are expecting to be 1-and-done guys. It got me to thinking about last year’s #1 rated, super freshmen class.
After a less than sterling freshman campaign, Archie Goodwin has declared for the NBA draft. Just a year ago, Goodwin was in the same shoes as the Harrison Twins and Dekari Johnson. Coach Cal is in your living room, selling you the dream of an NCAA championship and the NBA. A year ago, Goodwin was the one on the court with the bright future. But today, he’s gotta feel a bit like Woody from Toy Story.
A year ago, Goodwin, Alex Poythress, and Nerlens Noel were the toast of Lexington. The apples of Coach Cal’s eye. But now Coach has a few new, shiny toys to play with. Coach Cal has his new Buzz Lightyear with all of the latest technology and gadgetry, while Goodwin is just…well he’s just Woody.
After that loss to Robert Morris in the NIT (Ouch!), all of the fab frosh stated they were coming back next year. But I’m sure that was before they had that end of the season meeting with Coach Cal.
I have a feeling it went something like this for Goodwin…
Cal: So Archie, how you feeling?
Goodwin: Coach, I’m ready to get back in the gym, work on my game and improve. I know we can get to the tourney next year!
Cal: Ummmm, yeeeaaah…about next year. Archie, have you seen my recruiting class? Son, you aint gotta go home, but you gotta get the HELL outta here!
Well ok, maybe it didn’t go exactly like that, but you get the picture. Either go to league now or risk coming back and being stuffed into a chest with the other discarded toys.
A year earlier Marquis Teague was faced with that same decision. He was Woody and Goodwin and Ryan Harrow were the new Buzz. Teague didn’t want to end up on The Island of Misfit Toys, so he decided to go pro. He’s now in Chicago averaging 2.2 ppg with 1.4 apg, while playing just under 9 mpg. If Teague had remained at UK, his experience and leadership would have been a key asset and may have helped guide this team to a better defense of their title. Plus his stock might have been as high as anyone’s. It’s a vicious cycle and a lot of pressure to put on an 18-19 year old kid. Or if you’re Shabazz Muhammad, a 21 yr old grown ass man masquerading as an 18-19 year old kid.
Goodwin is fortunate though. Sure he’s nowhere near the level of the Calipari guards who’ve preceded him, but it’s a seriously weak draft class. He’s projected to be a lottery pick, but his game needs a lot more work before he’s NBA ready.
But you just know we’re going to be back here next year. Goodwin will go on to someone’s NBA bench and Cal will be reloading with another crop of fabulous, flashy Buzz Lightyears. The only question that remains, is who’s going to be the new Woody?
– N.D. Face