Willie Cauley-Stein is an American professional basketball player who plays the center position for the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association. As an upcoming rookie, Willie was named to a host of awards establishing them as one of the best ballplayers coming up. Follow us as we discuss his journey from high school basketball to the big league – the NBA.
Willie Cauley-Stein Bio
Cauley-Stein was born on the 18th of August 1993 in Spearville, Kansas. He was one of two kids born to his parents Marlene Stein and Willie Cauley. His parents never tied the knot in matrimony but they did seem to share a passion for basketball as both had played the game while growing up.
Willie has an elder sibling, his brother, Bryce. Willie’s full name at birth was Willie Durmond Cauley Jr but he had that changed in 2015 to Willie Trill Cauley-Stein. The name change was done in honor of his mother and her family. Marlene, the mother of the boys, worked as a dental assistant and raised them as a single mother (with assistance from her own parents – Willie’s maternal grandparents) as their father had left them at an early age.
High school for Cauley-Stein was at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas. As part of extra-curricular activities, Willie played both football and basketball. In his junior year in high school, he was averaging 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in basketball. He had a rating of four stars from Rivals.com.
Willie Cauley-Stein attended college in Kentucky playing for the college team, the Kentucky Wildcats. He started off his college basketball career as the center back-up to top prospect Nerlens Noel. While not a starter, in 20 games he was averaging 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.0 assists, and 0.8 steals.
Noel would later suffer a season-ending injury, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and Cauley-Stein stepped in as cover. His season-best was 20 points and 7 rebounds against Vanderbilt. He was averaging 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds at the end of the season. He was awarded the SEC Freshman of the Year honor twice and was named to the All-SEC Freshman team.
In his sophomore year in college, Cauley-Stein had a really impressive run. He featured in 37 games that year starting in 18 of them. He was averaging 6.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game.
For the 2014 NBA Draft, he was seen as a top-15 pick but then he suffered an injury towards the end of the season and decided he would return to college for another year before declaring for the draft. His total of 106 blocks was the second-most in the school history and led him to be named in the All-SEC Defensive Team.
His junior season was one that was laden with recognition for Cauley-Stein. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, the USA Today First Team All-American Team, selected to the All-SEC First Team and the All-SEC Defensive Team. At the end of that year, he declared to enter his name for the NBA Draft.
Willie Cauley-Stein was selected with the sixth overall pick in the NBA Draft of 2015 by the Sacramento Kings on the 25th of June 2015. His rookie deal was signed a couple of weeks later on July 16.
In the season-opening game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Cauley-Stein made his debut recording 2 points and 2 rebounds. On his first career start, he recorded 17 points and 9 rebounds in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers. His first career double-double came with 12 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Lakers at the turn of the year.
He scored 26 points in a win over the Phoenix Suns, a career-high at the time. By the end of his first professional season, he earned NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors. When the Kings decided to trade DeMarcus Cousins, Willie began to see extended minutes on the court and he went on to repay the faith with a career-high 29 points in a win for the King over the Denver Nuggets on February 23, 2017. He also recorded against the same opposition on January 6, 2018, a career-best seven steals in a 106-98 win.
Willie Cauley-Stein stands at a listed height of 7 feet 0 inches and weighs in at a listed 240 pounds. With that physical statistics, Willie perfectly suits his position as a central player.