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Apparently watching your team lose the national title while you ride the pine can have a pretty big impact on how you see your future.

Either that or some other crazy reason has made Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein decide to return to school for his junior year, and possibly giving up millions in guaranteed money in the process.



Cauley-Stein was pegged by many to be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft and at worst a pick in the first round. He was most likely on Boston GM Danny Ainge's radar since Ainge has said repeatedly that rim protection is a top priority during the rebuild and Calley-Stein might have been the best shot blocker in the draft after Joel Embiid.

Now? Cauley-Stein will be plugged into 2015 mock drafts and will see his draft stock plummet even if he improves on his game next year. The problem is the 2015 draft is absolutely loaded with big men.

Here are the heights and weights of some the upcoming freshmen bigs in a draft class that may rival the super-hyped 2014 draft:

Jahlil Okafor, 6'10" 265 lbs.

Myles Turner, 7' 240 lbs.

Karl Towns, 6'11" 235 lbs.

Trey Lyles, 6'10" 255 lbs.

These are just the freshmen. When you take into account all the great young freshmen guards, wings and forwards who will also be eligible for the 2015 draft and all the sophomores who will be a year better (like Cauley-Stein's teammates the Harrison twins who may stick around), as well as all the NBA teams that already have a center or would be looking to fill other positions, it doesn't take much to imagine Cauley-Stein falling out of the first round of the 2015 draft completely.

If Cauley-Stein is picked in the second round in 2015, his wallet will certainly feel it. He has given up the contract of a first round pick, which is guaranteed, for the contract of a second round pick, which isn't. Cauley-Stein is now going to have to bust ass his first few years in the league just to continue to get paid.

Get hurt? Tough, you're cut. Not improving how a team would like? Too bad, you're cut.

Speaking of injuries, maybe Cauley-Stein's bum ankle that caused him to miss the last three games of the tournament is so messed up that he may have felt he had no choice, but to come back to school. He might not be able to work out for NBA teams before the draft and with Greg Oden still fresh in everyone's minds, NBA GMs aren't exactly lining up to pick bigs with leg injuries.

Even so, you know some GM at the tail end of the first round would have taken a flyer on Cauley-Stein given his shot blocking and rebounding abilities. Now, Cauley-Stein can only hope to be so lucky in 2015.

Follow Eric
@ericblaisdell13

Eric Blaisdell 4/15/2014 07:35:00 PM Edit
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