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UK's Cauley-Stein Ambivalent About NBA Plans

After a Kentucky team’s final game of the season, win or lose—and Kentucky was so close to the ultimate goal, ending a season with a win—the question always has to be asked to whichever star players also double as NBA Draft candidates. The answers are always the same, as they largely were in the specific instance of Monday.

I haven’t thought about my future. I’ll talk to my family and my coaches, and we’ll make the right decision when the time is right.

By and large, that was the case after Kentucky’s 60-54 loss to Connecticut in the national championship game. One by one, the company line was given—and this isn’t to say anyone was telling anything other than the truth, because the investment in getting to Monday seemed totally consuming—and that was that. But as Willie Cauley-Stein often opens up when other players wouldn’t, he opened up Monday about the decision with which he’s faced.

He named several factors on which his decision will hinge. To begin, he said he would wait to see what some of his teammates decide. He did that last year, and he decided to return with Alex Poythress to play on this year’s team.

He also expressed reticence leaving Kentucky without having played in the most important games this season because of his ankle injury.

“I feel this emptiness in me like I’ve still got something to prove, and I’ve still got so much to work on my game. I went up from last year, and now I want to take another step. I want to make another jump in my game. The way I feel is like, could I come back to school and make that step and be kind of safe, or make the jump to the league and mess everything up? That kind of weighs in on your thinking. Like, what if I go there and I don’t do what I thought I was going to be able to do and you kind of get stuck, and you can’t come back to school?

“It’s like you might as well, you’ve got a chance to ride it out. And I love school. I love being at Kentucky, I love the fan base. I love the community. I love the people there, so it’s like, why not stay until they make you leave? I mean, you’re still going to feel—it just gets better as you get older. There’s so many different things that go through my head about it, but then there’s that other thing. Millions of dollars, able to work on your game—only your game and really define who you are without trying to balance out school, because that’s a full-time job, too. It’s so tough to play here at Kentucky and balance out your schoolwork. That kind of weighs in on everything, and your family kind of weighs in on stuff, too. I really don’t know. I’ve got to talk to my family and coaches and really try to decide what’s best for my future and best for my game, or if I’m going to be happy either way.”

This story appears courtesy of KY Forward and is written by James Pennington. KY Forward's coverage of UK Athlerics is sponsored by Republic Bank.