Kentucky's Cauley-Stein returns for junior season

The Associated Press
Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein out for title game
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Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein is interviewed in the locker room before practice for the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Kentucky plays Connecticut in the championship game on Monday, April 7. 2014. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky has announced that 7-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein will return for his junior season.

Cauley-Stein missed the final three games of the Wildcats' run to the NCAA championship game after sustaining a left ankle injury in the Midwest Region semifinal against Louisville. He had been projected as a possible top-15 NBA draft pick but said in a statement Monday he wanted to return and move closer to earning his degree.

He also wants to help Kentucky make another run at a title after watching from the bench.

Said Cauley-Stein says ''being at the Final Four was special, but not being able to help my teammates on the floor was tough.''

His 106 blocks tied for second-most in a season for Kentucky and he earned all-Southeastern Conference defensive team honors.