The Sacramento Kings introduced Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein, their first-round draft choice, to the local media on Saturday. He was on a day-long, meet-and-greet Sacramento tour.
"He's somebody who can really help us improve our team," said Kings executive Vlade Divac at the news conference introducing his new player. He said Cauley-Stein brings skills to help the team on both offense and defense.
"He's fast. I wouldn't like to play against him," said Divac, who was pretty quick for big man himself when he was in the NBA with the Kings, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets.
"I just want to express how proud I am to be here in Sacramento, and I know it's bigger than basketball here," Cauley-Stein said. "I'm excited to get going and working and change the whole mentality to the team, and get a chance to meet the guys and get acquainted with the coaches. But most importantly, I'm excited to be here with the best fans in the nation."
Cauley-Stein said his career in Lexington, in front of college basketball's most passionate fans, has prepared him well for this next step.
"It's super similar to Kentucky in a fan base sense," he said. "I can already tell the fans are super passionate. They're ride or die for us as a team. ... Coming from Kentucky, I'm used to that."
He talked about his commitment out of high school to Kentucky and Coach John Calipari.
"Everybody else was kinda spoon-feeding you what you wanted to hear, but they told me what was real."
Playing multiple positions at UK will ease his transition to the NBA.
"It plays right into my hands," Cauley-Stein said. "I kind of just fit into wherever I need to be fit into. ... It's going to be really beneficial for me as a learning curve, because I'm not going to have to learn as much."
And he treasures the guidance Calipari has given him.
"It didn't strike me until now that he was teaching us about the league," Cauley-Stein said. "Everybody in the league ... is good. There's nobody that's a bad player. But the good teams are the teams that can come together for a common goal, and sacrifice each other's self worth for each other. And that's how you win championships.
"We went 38-1, and not one of us showed everything we can do. Everybody had a role. ... As long as you know everybody's got your back, you're going to win and that's what's exciting."