When reporters asked Archie Goodwin after Kentucky's first-round NIT loss to Robert Morris whether he intended to enter the NBA draft, the freshman guard dismissed the idea he was ready to turn pro.
"If any of us were saying we think we should leave, then we’d all be delusional," Goodwin said.
Not even two weeks later, Goodwin has reversed course. Kentucky announced Monday morning that Goodwin will enter the NBA draft, gambling that his upside will be enough to entice a team to select him in the latter half of the first round despite a disappointing freshman season.
"This is something I've dreamed about my entire life and I feel like the opportunity is there for me to play at the next level," Goodwin said. "I will stay in Lexington to finish my schoolwork this semester before continuing to pursue my dream."
Kentucky will at least a couple key players back from this year's team as promising but raw 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein and sweet-shooting forward Kyle Wiltjer both revealed they'll return next year. Point guard Ryan Harrow announced Sunday he will transfer to Georgia State and freshmen Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress have yet to announce if they'll enter the draft or not, though it would be a huge surprise if Noel returned.
"I'm excited that Willie and Kyle have decided to return for next season," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "When we talk about a players-first program, our goal is for each player to reach his dreams. Willie and Kyle believe it is in their best interest to return to Kentucky next season to achieve those dreams, and I fully support their decisions."
Despite Goodwin's previous insistence he'd return to school, his decision to leave is not necessarily a bad gamble.
Ample playing time would not be a guarantee for him next season with the talented crop of freshmen John Calipari is bringing aboard. Plus, while Goodwin's effort, shot selection and decision making all need fine tuning, he has physical tools that will be enticing to NBA teams in a draft in which there are very few surefire stars.
It's good for Kentucky to get Wiltjer and Cauley-Stein back though to provide continuity from one year to the next and give the freshmen some seasoned veterans they can turn to for advice during the summer and at the start of the season. The Wildcats may also benefit from some greater depth so that the bench is a realistic threat for players who don't meet expectations or give maximum effort.
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