How Cauley-Stein, others boost draft stock

Willie Cauley-Stein could be a 2015 lottery selection if he develops more of a low-post game. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Coaches like to say that great teams are made from October to April, but great players are made from April to October. This is the time of year that players take stock of their games with input from their coaches and head to the gym to improve.

Here are five very good players who could have left early for the NBA but decided to come back. They’ll now spend the next six months improving their individual games and, in the process, improving their teams. The by-product of their efforts is they could all enhance their NBA draft opportunities in the future.

Willie Cauley-Stein | F | Kentucky Wildcats

Area of improvement: Gain a low-post game

Chad Ford’s 2015 ranking: 11

Cauley-Stein would have been a mid-first round pick this June on the strength of his athleticism and shot-blocking ability alone. The odds are that they will both remain two of his strengths next season. But if he wants to play a more key role for the Wildcats, even with a stable of quality big men surrounding him, improving his ability to score around the basket is crucial.

Cauley-Stein is essentially a big man who catches lobs, dump-off passes and offensive rebound putbacks. It is effective, as he made 59.6 percent of his field goal attempts.

Cauley-Stein’s game goes to another level with just one go-to, low-post move and, at 7 feet tall, a jump hook over his left shoulder would be ideal. From there, a counter move would make him extremely hard to handle.