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July 30, 2013Archie Goodwin's one season at Kentucky had several ups, but since the team will be remembered for missing the NCAA tournament, his downs overshadow them.
Goodwin averaged 14.1 points per game, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season at UK. While most freshmen would kill for those numbers, Goodwin often was killed for his sloppy play.
Still, the 6-foot-5 guard felt he was ready for the NBA, and entered the draft. He was selected 29th overall and landed in Phoenix where he turned heads with his Summer League performance, averaging 13.1 points per game in seven games, shooting 50 percent from the field.
"I think I had a really strong showing," Goodwin said. "Just going out there and getting the opportunity to play. I just wanted to showcase that I've been working really hard. I've been working on a lot of things in my game.
"I just wanted to show that I was better than what people thought."
And while Goodwin might have surprised UK fans and other NBA teams with his summer league play, the Suns have always believed in him, he said.
"They were excited to get me, as I was excited to be there," Goodwin said. "They said from the get-go, they knew I was going to be a special player, felt like I was going to be one of the better players out of this draft."
The Suns weren't alone in thinking that.
"I felt the same way," Goodwin said.
But he understands that the majority didn't, and several thought he wouldn't make it in the NBA.
Goodwin ignored the negativity.
"I didn't pay attention to it," Goodwin said. "I knew that people were going to have negative things to say, just because of the way our season went. At the end of the day, I knew what I was capable of; I knew what I was going to do."
Out in the desert Goodwin will be able to transition into the league with another former Wildcat. This offseason Eric Bledsoe was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Suns.
The idea of a young, all-UK backcourt excites Goodwin.
"But it's going to be a great opportunity for me, just to be under a guy that played here," Goodwin said. "We'll already have that bond going. I know he's a competitor as well as I am. So I feel like us together, we can make some things happen."
Nerlens Noel has plenty of bulletin board material heading into his rookie season.
The 6-foot-11, 228-pound forward first had to deal with questions about whether or not he could bounce back after tearing his ACL in February. Now he's answering questions about falling from the projected No.1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft all the way down to No.6.
"I wouldn't call it (other teams making) a mistake," said Noel, who was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. "It's more of just a motivation, something when I wake up in the morning it keeps me going. It definitely just put more into my fire and just definitely wanting to get back and show teams what I'm capable of when I get back."
In his 24 college career games, Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game.
Noel has said in the past he could be ready to play by November or December, but for now he's just focusing on getting 100 percent healthy.
"The knee feels great," Noel said. "I'm just definitely staying after it, working hard and staying focused. As opposed to a timetable, I'm just being careful, staying patient. Definitely want to come back a lot stronger than I was before, being able to maintain the physical play of the league and just really working on my body overall."
Last weekend Noel was introduced by the 76ers and continues to rehab.
"I just got back from Philadelphia, had my press conference, got introduced," Noel said. "For the most part I've been in Birmingham, Ala., just really rehabbing. That was the thing, jut really getting after it."
Julius Mays is turning heads and plans on playing professional basketball overseas.
Mays, who at the end of last season was unsure if he would continue his basketball career, worked out for the New Jersey Nets and played well enough that he's receiving attention from overseas.
"I shocked a lot of people," Mays said. "I got a lot of great feedback. Since I was used more as a shooter here and ran off screens, they didn't even know I could play point guard, so them seeing me play that was a shock."
Mays, who plans to sign with a European team in the next few weeks, was also told depending on how well he played overseas, he could land on an NBA Summer League team next year.
Mays averaged 9.3 points per game in his one season at UK, shooting 37.1 percent from three-point range.
Goodwin, Mays and Noel knew change was coming Kyle Wiltjer's way, but they were surprised to see him leave Kentucky for Gonzaga.
After conversations with the team and coaches, the trio of former Cats thought Wiltjer was going to redshirt this upcoming season at UK, not transfer.
"I figured he would probably redshirt here and work on his body," Mays said. "I think Kyle has a great skill set, but his body probably isn't where he wanted it to be. I think he knew that and I felt like he would redshirt here, but as far as transferring, I didn't see it."
Goodwin's reaction was similair.
"We thought he was going to redshirt, but for him to transfer, I didn't see it coming," Goodwin said. "But I wish him the best of luck. He's still a Wildcat at the end of the day. He will always be one. He was here when they won a championship, so it's nothing but love - from us especially."
And Goodwin felt if Wiltjer was going to leave UK, Gonzaga was a solid fit. He compared him to former Zag Kelly Olynyk.
"I feel like that's what he can see himself doing," Goodwin said. "He has the skill set. He just needs a better body, because he's just not developed yet. But once he gets that, I feel like he's going to be someone guys are really shocked at."