It was never a given that he would attend Kentucky, but Archie Goodwin admits it was “highly likely” because of what he knew about coach John Calipari when the coach was at Memphis.
“When I¿finally got the offer from him, that was the offer I was excited about. It wasn’t something to where I was just going to automatically commit, because you never know what could happen, but there was more of a chance of me coming here than any other school once I got the offer,” said Goodwin, a highly-touted freshman guard from Arkansas.
Goodwin said he didn’t originally start following Memphis because of Calipari. Instead, it was due to point guard Derrick Rose, now a star with the Chicago Bulls.
“Once he got Derrick Rose, I started to watch them play a lot. I was impressed by him. I used to watch Tyreke Evans a lot, and once he went there, a trend started going from Tyreke to John Wall to Brandon Knight. That is what started getting my attention about him and how great he is with point guards,” Goodwin said. “This season he was great with big men, every position. He did an excellent job with all his players. That caught my eye on how well he transforms players into even better players.”
Calipari has already started doing that with Goodwin, a McDonald’s All-American.
“We have been working on getting Archie a consistent shot. You can’t shoot different kind of balls. You can’t lean one way. You have to shoot consistently,” Calipari said. “When you are in high school you can miss your first 12 shots and get 12 to 15 more. Now you can’t do that. In his case, you have to be a very consistent shooter. He’s not ready for that yet.
“If he is going to shoot a lot of balls for us, he better be a consistent shooter. It doesn’t mean you make every shot. It doesn’t mean you shoot consistently as far as making them. It means every shot you shoot is in that range. You look at it, and it is the same shot whether you are running, it’s in transition, whether it is a 3, whether it is a free throw. It is the same shot. He doesn’t have that right now.”
Goodwin says the changes are “not anything big” nor anything that he can’t change.
“Just me making sure I¿am shooting it consistently every time and making sure my body is still on the way up,” he said. “It is just little things. Not anything big. I was aware of them but wasn’t trying to correct them. Now that I¿am correcting them, my shot is a lot better. It is not anything big that I can’t correct.”
DraftExpress.com analyst Matt Kamalsky certainly sees Goodwin becoming a major player for Kentucky this season.
“Goodwin is a perfect fit for the dribble-drive offense. He's a good ball-handler, he's quick, he's a great leaper, and he's not at all shy about attacking the rim or finishing under duress. If he shows progress as a perimeter shooter, he's going to be considered one of the best shooting guard prospects in the country,” Kamalsky said.
But Calipari has indicated he could also use Goodwin at point guard to back up Ryan Harrow.
“It is something I¿knew. I¿have experience at the point guard position before because I played it in high school and AAU. It is not something I have to get accustomed to. I¿know how to do it,” Goodwin said.
He says it’s too early for him to know where he might help the team the most.
“You never know what you role is going to be. I¿don’t know what my role will be, but whatever it is I will do it the best I can. I just know whatever coach Cal needs to me to do, I will do. That’s ultimately what it comes down to. You can’t complain about anything that is going on. You just have to do what your coach tells you to do, and I¿will do whatever he tells me to do,” Goodwin said.
He says he and the other freshmen — Alex Poythress, Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein — have all helped each other adjust to life at Kentucky and have benefitted from advice given by older players like Kyle Wiltjer, Twany Beckham and Jon Hood.
“Those guys have already been here. They know what to expect. We are coming in not knowing what to expect,” Goodwin said. “The first couple of weeks were not that bad, because we got accustomed to it because we are all fast learners. They tell us little things every now and then, but for the most part we have got it. It has been about what I expected here. We talk to a lot of fans even around classes. It is not something I¿did not expect.
“I don’t mind attention. It is something, if you are going to be a professional in any sport, that you have to expect a lot of attention from media and fans and the corporate world. It’s not something I just love. I am pretty sure nobody loves it, but I can tolerate it. It will not bother me. What’s said is said and what’s done is done. I can handle the attention and still focus on playing ball.”
Goodwin says the freshmen, part of Calipari’s fourth straight No. 1 recruiting class, have “great relationships” with each other.
“We all hang out all the time. Actually, the whole team does. We are really close, especially for it to be this early. The freshmen hang out a lot, or we’ll be in our rooms playing games and stuff. We get along well,” he said. “Willie is really funny. There are a lot of guys on this team that are funny. I¿am just a goofy person. Everybody on the team makes me laugh. They are all funny, and that’s good for us all.”
Goodwin says Kentucky fans will learn he has “nothing to hide” about his game or personality.
“There is not anything that people don’t know about me. Everybody knows I like ‘SpongeBob.’ That’s the only thing fans might not know, but people probably know that because I have said that on interviews a thousand times,” Goodwin said. “I don’t do much. Being in school, if it is not basketball, it is school work.¿If it is not school work, it is sleep. We need our rest, especially for all we do. Those are the only things that take up my time and about all I do here.”
He does miss his family and says his family has had a bigger impact on his basketball career than anyone else.
“My family have been the most important people for me throughout this process from start to right now. I would have to give them thanks and love for that,” he said. “I¿think they are going to enjoy it a lot with me here. They have seen me work hard every day and have been there to take me to the gym, pick me up from practices and games until I was old enough to drive. That is going to be really enjoyable for them to come watch me.
“I am always going to miss my home and family. It was something I¿knew I¿would miss before I¿came here. It is not something that is terrible.¿I talk to them every day, but I¿am a little homesick. I¿am a little bit of a mama’s boy.”
Goodwin’s Kentucky¿debut will officially come at Big Blue Madness on Oct. 12 in Rupp Arena, a date he’s been looking forward to for months.
“Yeah, I¿am excited for it. It will be a great night for our first official practice, and we get to do it in front of 24,000 plus. It will be something else,” he said.
He has already openly talked about winning a national title, just as Kentucky¿freshmen Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer did at this time a year ago before they did just that.
“If you do not want that pressure, you picked the wrong college to go to at Kentucky,” Goodwin said. “At Kentucky, they expect to win championships. Championships are just something they are used to doing over and over. The students, university and Kentucky fans do not expect anything but a national championship. I am the same way.”Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times