Catching up with former Cats Noel, Goodwin, Mays at Cal's camp

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJuly 29, 2013 

Get ready for some tough love, Kitty Cats.

Archie Goodwin says that would be his advice for Kentucky's highly touted freshman class.

Speaking during a break from Coach John Calipari's Basketball Procamp at Memorial Coliseum, Goodwin stressed the importance of listening "to what Coach Cal says, not how he says it."

"I feel like last year we had a couple guys that, once he said things, the way he said it really put guys down because they're not used to the way he coaches. And it's kind of hard to get used to that, coming from high school where you were able to do whatever you wanted. If they just listen to what he says instead of how he says it, I think they'll be just fine."

Goodwin was joined in the press conference by fellow camp leaders Nerlens Noel, Julius Mays and Twany Beckham.

Noel added that the new Cats should "just listen to Coach Cal. He has everybody's best interest."

"Establish team chemistry early on in the year. Make sure a leader steps up."

Goodwin says he has seen several of the incoming freshmen in the gym.

"Julius (Randle), he really stands out to me," Goodwin said. "He's a competitor, just like I was in the gym. ... I feel like he's going to be a real good player.

"I feel like with the team that they have this year, just the talent alone is going to win them a championship. It's just a matter of them meshing together."

Noel coming along

Calipari, addressing campers, said Noel won't be ready to play for the Philadelphia 76ers until December.

The 6-foot-10 one-and-doner from Everett, Mass., tore the ACL in his left knee last February. Although he played only 24 games for the Cats, Noel was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference, finishing with averages of 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals.

"The knee feels great. But I'm just staying after it, working hard, staying focused," Noel said.

As to when he expects to be 100 percent, "whatever Dr. (James) Andrews says," Noel said. "I'm ahead of schedule still.

"I've been working really hard to get back and I'm getting a lot stronger, and I feel great now. But this is something I've really got to be careful with, because I want to have a long career in the NBA. ... I don't want to rush it now to put anything at risk,"

Sun splash

Goodwin is fresh off a sterling showing in the NBA Summer League. Helping the Phoenix Suns to the finals, the 6-5 guard averaged 13.1 points and 3.3 rebounds, shooting 50 percent from the field. It was a good response to those who doubted the Suns for taking him in the first round (29th overall) of the draft.

"I think I had a really good summer," Goodwin said. "Just going out there and getting the opportunity to play. I just wanted to showcase that I've been working really hard, and I've been working on a lot of things in my game."

Goodwin says the NBA style of play fits his athleticism, ball-handling and ability to get in the lane.

He added that Coach Jeff Hornacek "definitely told me I'm going to play right away. He wanted to make that clear. They were excited to get me, as I was excited to be there, and they said from the get-go they knew I was going to be a special player."

Rim shots

Mays, who averaged 9.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists for UK last season, is pursuing a career outside the NBA.

"Probably in the next few weeks, I'll take a deal overseas," he said. "I don't know which country yet. ... I've got a lot of great opportunities ahead of me right now, and I'm in a very blessed situation to pick and choose where I want to go. Obviously, I would have loved to play in the NBA, but not everybody gets the opportunity."

Goodwin and Mays said they didn't see it coming when Kyle Wiltjer opted to transfer to Gonzaga.

Said Mays: "I figured he would probably redshirt here and work on his body. I think Kyle has a really good skill set, but his body isn't probably where he wants it to be, and I think he knew that. ... He felt like he had a better opportunity to become a better player somewhere else, and I just respect the decision and wish him well."

Beckham, whose playing days are over, recently completed a book about his life and is "looking forward to getting it out."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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