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Last season, UK forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist worked his way into a leadership role for the eventual national-champion Wildcats, but he acknowledged early in the year his initial hesitation at assuming that role because of his youth.
That has not been a problem so far for freshman guard Archie Goodwin.
“This team is a lot newer than that team. They had a few guys that came back,” Goodwin said in a preseason interview with KyForward. “With this being a new team and the guys seeing how hard I work every day‚Ä¶it makes it a little easier to listen to me than if I were a guy finishing last, just dragging through everything.
“I’m not saying Michael did that, but he still had a lot more veterans on his team than I do. We only have a few. Being a guy that can come in and assume that role, especially if nobody is stepping up to it, it makes it a lot easier.”
With only one player who saw significant minutes last season returning for the 2012-13 season, the Wildcats may need Goodwin to assume some leadership responsibility.
Goodwin and fellow freshmen Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress are expected to start from day one of their collegiate careers.
Asked in a preseason roundtable interview with local media which freshmen were most ready to play immediately, UK head coach John Calipari pointed to Goodwin and Poythress.
He acknowledged Goodwin still has work to do.
“We’ve been working on Archie (developing) a consistent shot,” he said. “You can’t shoot different kinds of balls. You can’t lean one way. You’ve got to shoot consistently.
“When you’re in high school you can miss your first 12, (because) I’m getting 12 more, 15 more. Now you can’t do that.”
Goodwin said he’s been “working a lot” on his shot, but does not lack for confidence entering the season.
“I’m a great attacker,” he said. “I play both ends of the floor well. I work hard and just do what I need to to win.”
As a senior at Sylvan Hills High School in Arkansas, Goodwin was named a Parade All-Ameirican and McDonalds All-American. He was picked as Arkansas’ Mr. Basketball and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
Goodwin is expected to be UK’s starting shooting guard, but he could also see extensive minutes at point guard in place of sophomore Ryan Harrow
“If he’s at point, he’s a lot like Tyreke Evans,” Calipari said, referencing his former Memphis point guard who was picked No. 4 in the 2009 NBA draft.
Goodwin played a lot of point guard in high school and with his AAU team. He thinks he can help add depth at the position, but he’s not worried about which former Calipari point guards he might be compared to.
“I’m my own player, and they’re their own players,” he said. “With that being said, it’s just I have to do what I do like they did what they had to do.”
Part of following in the footsteps of former Calipari point guards like Evans, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague will involve becoming a significant contributor as a freshman.
He’s already impressed some of his teammates with his work ethic.
“He works really hard,” Harrow said. “When it’s practice time and it’s not practice time, he’s still working.”
“He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” said freshman forward Willie Cauley-Stein. “It seems like he never gets tired.”
Goodwin’s individual work ethic may be impressive on its own, but he’s also trying to follow Calipari’s direction to “drag some guys with you” when getting in extra work.
“Nobody can do anything by himself,” Goodwin said. “You’re always going to need players to do stuff with you and help you out. I’m making sure that every day I’m in the gym I bring somebody else in here with me as well, so I’m not the only one getting better.”
Goodwin knows that process of getting extra work is key to he and his teammates cashing in on their potential.
“I would say we’re going to work hard and hopefully we get to win a national championship,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t, but it’s not something we can’t do. We’re fully capable of doing it. It’s just a matter of us coming together as a team or not.”
In the two weeks before Big Blue Madness, KyForward sports editor Jon Hale will be previewing the 2012-13 UK men’s basketball series with a profile of each of the 12 Wildcats as well as other features to get you ready for the team’s attempt to repeat as National Champions. The series started Monday with a profile of Willie Cauley-Stein and looks at Nerlens Noel tomorrow.
On the Sports page, you can also read today’s feature “What pressure? Calipari, Wildcats downplay goal of repeating as national champions” and on the KyForward UK Sports Notebook you can see more from the one-on-one interview with Archie Goodwin.