Sophomore forward Willie Cauley-Stein will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, it was announced Monday.
“I want to come back and have a chance to win a national championship, while also getting closer to earning my degree,” Cauley-Stein said. “Being at the Final Four this year was special, but not being able to help my teammates on the floor was tough. I look forward to helping us get back there next year, while playing in front of the best fans in the nation.”
Cauley-Stein earned All-Southeastern Conference Defensive Team accolades during the 2013-14 season, the sixth UK player in the last five seasons to earn the distinction. With four rejections against Kansas State in Kentucky’s opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Cauley-Stein moved into a tie for second place in the single-season standings for blocks with 106 on the year. Only Anthony Davis (186) had more in a single year. That total also ranked in the top 10 nationally for the year.
“I’m happy for Willie and also proud of him for making the best decision for him and his family,” head coach John Calipari said. “Being in school for at least three years will get him closer to having a degree and will help him prepare for the next level and life afterwards.”
The 7-foot sophomore has totaled 166 blocks in his career, which ranks sixth all-time in program history.
The Olathe, Kan., native had perhaps the most stunning defensive performance in Kentucky’s regular-season win over Georgia. He posted six blocks and six steals in the same contest to become the first player in school history to achieve that feat.