Archie Goodwin picks Kentucky
A Perfect Fit In Lexington
When Kentucky looks for a basketball recruit you can be sure it is looking for a player who excels in the dribble penetration game for the dribble-drive offense. That offense, along with outstanding recruiting and player development, has made coach John Calipari one of the most successful coaches in college basketball.
Archie Goodwin fits the Wildcats system perfectly. He may be the best player in the nation at beating his defender in a one-on-one situation and it doesn't hurt that he is ultra-competitive and unselfish. The future Wildcat is presently a scoring guard but will easily to transform to play and defend all three perimeter positions.
One of the main reasons he chose to play for Calipari was the success he had with his guards. "Growing up I watched Coach Cal and the way he developed his guards," Goodwin said. "I noticed the success they had in college and in the NBA. I was hoping he would recruit me, but also I knew there were other great coaches and programs out there to look at. Coach Cal and Kentucky was everything I was looking for. It's a perfect fit."
The long, athletic guard who is best with the ball in his hands draws comparisons to Sacramento Kings star Tyreke Evans who Calipari coached at Memphis. Because of his size and power, Goodwin is considered one of the best finishers in the nation whether it's in the transition game or the half-court set. However, he separates himself from his peers with his ability to carry an opponent on his hip into the lane, take on a second defender and score or dish to an open teammate. Defensively, he has tremendous length and can be very good at rebounding down from the perimeter and leading the break. It looks as if most facets of the game come natural to him.
As with all top players there are areas to improve upon and Goodwin is no different. He is so difficult to defend off the dribble, but he must continue to improve his long-range shooting, learn the art of the pick-and-roll game as well as posting up other guards when he sees a mismatch. Last year's Gatorade Player of the Year in Arkansas understands what he is walking into at Kentucky and is ready for the challenge.
"I know they have great players and are recruiting more great players," he said. "I am confident in my ability and work ethic to earn my time."
-- Paul Biancardi
Goodwin, the fourth-ranked shooting guard in the senior class, had his pick of programs. Recently, he eliminated Connecticut and Kansas but kept in-state Arkansas and nearby Memphis alive. Kentucky had been waiting to see which prime recruit was going to pop first, and following an in-home visit, Goodwin no longer could resist the pull of Lexington.
Goodwin took a measure of pride in being coach John Calipari's beacon for the rest of the class to follow. "He told me he wants me bad and I'm a top recruit for him," Goodwin said. "No matter what, he wants the ball in my hands and he feels like me committing will probably get the ball rolling for the rest of the class. It's got to start somewhere."
In the past three years, Kentucky has grown accustomed to recruiting success. Calipari delivered the nation's top recruiting class in 2009, 2010, 2011, and the Wildcats are involved with just enough top-tier players to challenge again.
Goodwin is a scorer by nature. He has proved to be one of the most deadly wings off the dribble in his class. His first step is electric and he's as competitive as he is confident. Kentucky played to his emotions as a competitor and he responded.
"I think Kentucky did (appeal the most). Coach Cal already told me that it's not going to be easy. I don't want anyone to give me anything. I've worked for stuff my whole life," Goodwin said. "I'm going to compete and that's going to make me and my teammates better. I want to go work every day. From a competitive standpoint, it's the best decision for me."
By picking the Wildcats, he passed on the Razorbacks, and any time the state's best player doesn't go to Fayetteville, there's a whole group of Hogs fans who want to know why.
"That's one thing that is the toughest," Goodwin said. "Growing up here and with so many expectations to go there, it's been a lot of pressure. Arkansas is a great school and I love Coach [Mike] Anderson and his staff. I love my state but it's a business decision and this is best for my career and my family."
As a youngster, when Goodwin would tune into college basketball on TV -- and he watches basketball a lot -- it was Calipari who dominated his thoughts. "I wasn't in the era to see the other coaches in their prime. I grew up watching Coach Cal in his prime. I knew from Day 1 that he was the guy I wanted to play for. I have that opportunity, so I went ahead and did it."
Now, Goodwin -- who is set to take his official visit to Kentucky for Midnight Madness -- wants to let other recruits know it's time to pick Kentucky this year. He's got no qualms about the Wildcats bringing in prime talent; it's why he picked them in the first place.
"It's one of those things, like why not take the opportunity once you get it? There's plenty of guys I'd love to play with. DaJuan Coleman (Dewitt, N.Y./Jamesville-Dewitt) and Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) would be great. So would Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Marks); all those guys are great. No matter who it will be, I'm going to be surrounded by great players. We'll bond and get to know each other."
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.