Minutes after UK’s season-ending loss to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT, guard Archie Goodwin said any of the Wildcats would be “delusional” to consider leaving school for the NBA draft.
Less than two weeks later Goodwin declared for the draft.
Speaking at his first news conference since the end of the season this week, UK head coach John Calipari declined to go into specifics about what advice he gave Goodwin regarding the draft, but he said he fully supports the decision now that it has been made.
“We gave him the information, what was out there, what we were told,” Calipari said. “We sat down and talked to him and he came back and said he wanted to put his name in the draft, and we said, ‘Great, let’s go for it.’”
Draft experts tend to view Goodwin as a late-first round or early second-round prospect. ESPN’s Chad Ford has him ranked as the No. 30 prospect in the draft.
Archie Goodwin drives into the lane.
(File photo by Jon Hale)
Goodwin has a chance to improve that stock this week at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, where he measured at 6-foot-3 without shoes and 6-foot-5 with shoes Thursday.
“He’s having a rough go right now with NBA teams, partly because the expectations were so high for him out of high school and that so many of the freshmen have been successful and Calipari has had this ability to get the most out of these guys,” Ford told reporters in a pre-combine conference call. “I think that’s been a huge feather in Calipari’s cap. So when it didn’t happen with Archie, I think a lot of NBA scouts put that back on the player and said, ‘If Calipari can’t get the best out of you, and it didn’t feel like he developed much as a player from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, how does that bode for your NBA future playing in the (developmental) league or playing on an NBA team?’”
For his part, Calipari said he’s received phone calls from five or six NBA teams about Goodwin as a draft prospect
Calipari has his own theories about the type of prospect NBA teams will get by drafting Goodwin.
“You think about it, basically, if you draft him, he’s 18 years old. You’re getting a high school player, the old days when the high school player could come out,” Calipari said. “You may have players in that draft that are four years older than him…The whole point with him is where do you project him?”
Goodwin led UK in scoring at 14.1 points per game as a freshman, but he struggled with his shot throughout the season. Goodwin shot 26.6 percent from three-point range and 63.7 percent from the free throw line.
Aside from a short stint early in the season when point guard Ryan Harrow was away from the team due to a family issue, Goodwin saw most of his time at shooting guard.
“Would it have been better for him and maybe for us if I had played him at point guard at the start of the year? Maybe,” Calipari said. “But at his age, they’re going to have a chance to mold him as a wing guard, point guard, whatever they want him to be.”
Both Chad Ford and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla agree that much of Goodwin’s development will likely take place in the NBA’s developmental league, not on a NBA bench.
“His potential suggests still he should be a mid to late first round pick,” Ford said. “I think the question mark is, ‘Will he take that time, will he have the right attitude, will he be winning to be coached an will he work on his weakness?’ No one knows the answer to those questions.”
It’s that potential that will likely lead a NBA team to give Goodwin a chance, despite the question marks.
Ford projects the Phoenix Suns to take Goodwin with the last pick in the first round in his latest mock draft.
“He does a lot of things well for a young player,” Fraschilla said. “He’s athletic, terrific end to end quickness. Gets into the lane at will…and he’s actually a willing passer at 6-4, 6-5.”
Calipari used Goodwin’s own word in noting that his former teammates Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress were not delusional about their pro prospects in choosing a return to UK for their sophomore seasons over the chance to be drafted in the first round.
Still, Calipari is confident Goodwin will one day be a productive NBA player.
“Workouts will be important for him, but I think he’ll be fine because if you have a good attitude and you truly have a huge work capacity, like a Brandon Knight, you’re going to be fine,” he said. “There may be bumps in the road, but you will be fine. Someone will take him in a good position, and he’ll be fine.”