CHICAGO — McDonald’s All-Americans Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison were all smiles when told Monday that freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein would return to UK for another season.
“I’m happy about that — Willie staying,” Randle said. “Next year, we’ll have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things. I think it’ll be tough to match up with us.”
As the probable starting point guard, it will be Harrison’s job to make sure everybody meshes on the court. He’s looking forward to adding Cauley-Stein to the mix of five-star high school recruits UK has coming in.
“That’s great. That’s good news,” he said. “Willie is a great athlete. He just has to get a little bit more focus, so I’m going to try to do that.”
UK Coach John Calipari has told Harrison that he’ll have to be more of a vocal leader on next season’s squad. The Texas native said he has no problem telling older players what to do on the court.
But first, they have to be willing to listen.
“I know I have to go in there and prove myself,” he said. “You have to earn respect, so I’m going to have to go in there and earn it.”
Last week, ESPN analyst Chad Ford told the Herald-Leader that Willie Cauley-Stein would be the UK freshman with the most to gain by returning to Lexington for another season.
Ford’s reasoning was simple: Andrew Harrison will be there.
“His game has grown by leaps and bounds since he started his senior year of high school,” Ford said of Cauley-Stein. “I think he could easily be a lottery pick if he stayed another year.
“The biggest thing will be having a true point guard. Andrew Harrison is about five times better than Ryan Harrow. Big men need someone to give them the ball in the right position.”