Archie Goodwin was a highly recruited player who could have had his pick of almost any school in the country. However, even if Kentucky fans didn’t know it, Goodwin never really considered signing with anyone else.
“It was a very easy decision for me to come to Kentucky,” said Goodwin, a guard from Little Rock, Ark., who is part of Kentucky’s coach John Calipari’s latest No. 1-ranked recruiting class. “I looked at the way that the system runs and is incorporated and it fits me just fine. Coach Cal was looking for a guy that will get it done and I will do that.”
Goodwin’s stepfather, Datron Humphrey, says few people know that Goodwin followed Calipari’s coaching career when he was the head coach at Memphis.
“Everybody wants to play for Cal, but if you are good enough he will look at you,” Humphrey said. “He will find you. You do not have to look for him. Archie kept working hard. When he got knocked down, he got back up and went back to work.”
Humphrey thinks Kentucky is as good a fit for Goodwin as the player does.
“He liked that up-and-down tempo. He feel in love with that,” Humphrey said. “I pretty much thought the same thing. With the dribble-drive offense that coach Cal has and how aggressive (Goodwin) is on the dribble, it should be a pretty good fit.
“To be perfectly honest, it was Kentucky all the way for him, without a doubt. Being from Arkansas, he had to keep it politically correct and keep Arkansas in the picture. But it was nothing against the folks here. He grew up watching coach Cal, and that’s just how it happened. Kentucky was always first with him.”
Goodwin will be part of a talented but inexperienced team at Kentucky. However, he has no qualms about being pushed into a major leadership role, as Calipari has tended to do with freshmen.
“That’s no problem for me. No doubts about it. I am going into a situation where I have to be prepared to take big strides and be a leader. You don’t have to be a senior to be a leader,” Goodwin said. “I expect coming into the situation on a young team, that I may have to take over and do that.
“I would say my leadership is natural. I think my leadership just comes from being so competitive all my life. I am a hard worker at whatever I am doing and try to lead by example even when I am not speaking loudly with words.”
His stepfather says Goodwin has always been “outgoing and outspoken” and a natural leader.
“If you have 20 guys and say one will be class president, he will be that one,” Humphrey said. “If the spotlight is going to be on anybody, it’s going to be him. That’s just how he is. He loves when the lights come on. He just loves it.
“But he’s also always been a team-first guy. That’s just how he is. He understands he has to be a team player. He’s a caring guy, a team guy. He’s just a good kid who will polish and craft his material every day to get better, and I think teammates like and respect that.”
Goodwin takes pride in his defense, and that was even obvious during the various all-star games he played in with some of the nation’s best players.
“It was fun, and a little tiring. With all the flights we had to do to get there and back, it was tiring. But it was a lot of fun playing with the guys and hanging out and seeing what everybody was like,” he said. “But I am very competitive. I hate losing. I take losing very hard in any game, big or small. I just do not like to lose, and I try to do what I need to do for my team to win.
“I work on my game a lot. I usually go in the gym for 2 1/2 hours, and then I run and condition. It’s not just natural ability that I have. I may have a lot of athletic ability, but I work on my legs a lot. I have put a lot of hard work into being a good player.”
Humphrey says Goodwin has an “unbelievable” work ethic.
“He will never stop working. Sometimes during the school year I knew his body was tired and I would tell him that he might need to take some days off, and he was not for any of that,” Humphrey said. “The kid loves being in the gym. It is crazy how much he loves being in the gym. That’s all he likes to do.”
Goodwin’s gym work has enabled him to use both hands to handle the ball and get to the rim as well as to take great pride in his defense.
“Both my dad and stepdad said that guys that are the best players use both hands, shoot from the outside, go to the rim, play defense and do all the little things they can do really well,” Goodwin said. “I want to be a top player and show all that.”
Humphrey says “it wasn’t hard” to get Goodwin to work to perfect his skills.
“We kind of had like a routine we would do after homework every day after school. We would go outside and bounce balls left hand, right hand and in and out of cones,” Humphrey said. “I remember telling him that we can’t do anything about his height or size, that was up to God. But if he did grow and had great ball-handling skills, that would be a big plus. That’s how he developed the ability to use both hands, and he picked it up pretty easy. We did a lot of reps every day, and it was just something he was accustomed to doing.
“We basically had to come from the bottom to get to where we are now. We just did things over and over and over. I was kind of rough on him. But I knew what he wanted to do and he knew what he wanted to do. Opportunities are so slim in basketball, and we knew he had to work to get what he wanted.”
Goodwin, who has a 6-10 wingspan, impressed Draftexpress.com’s Jonathan Givony. Here’s Givony’s analysis of Goodwin’s offense:
“Goodwin is an aggressive, instinctive scorer, outstanding in transition and extremely assertive in the half-court. He has a strong first step and a nose for getting inside the paint, being capable of creating his own shot on a regular basis, mostly to take the ball strong to the basket. Once inside the paint, he can finish in highlight reel fashion, showing good body control, nice creativity and the raw explosiveness to power his way through traffic.
“Like many young athletic slashers, Goodwin still has room to improve on the nuances of scoring in the half-court, be it learning how to read defenses, changing speeds and keeping his opponent off balance, or knowing when to stop and pull up in the mid-range for an off-the-dribble jumper. He is just an average passer at this stage and is not immune to forcing the issue at times, but does not appear to be a selfish player and looks to have the instincts and smarts needed to develop a more complete offensive arsenal as he gains experience through good coaching.”
Givony says Goodwin must improve his jump shot and his defense — areas Calipari will help with — but still says he is one of the “most talented scorers” among incoming freshmen.
“He won’t be 18 until August. He has a lot of growing and a big upside with a lot of learning. Coach Cal will iron out all the wrinkles and he will be OK,” Humphrey said.
Goodwin knows his strength.
“Just the way I attack. I am very aggressive on both ends of the floor. That has always been working for me,” he said.
“As a player, the best thing he does is he always finds a way to get the ball in the hole,” Humphrey said. “The kid can just flat-out score. He has a knack for getting the ball in the hole. Some of the shots he makes are unbelievable. We always stressed there are all different ways to score. Three-pointers, drive, rebound, steals, free throw line. He just took into that. He’s not one dimensional. He can go left, go right, shoot a pull-up, shoot a 3. He’s a good finisher and scorer.”
Goodwin also understands the value of defense.
“I am very aggressive with my on-ball defense. My dad and stepdad taught met the value of playing defense. I know growing up a lot of younger kids mostly want to shoot and a lot of kids want to leak out (on the fast break) and not play defense and hope someone misses and they can run the court and try to get a dunk or whatever,” he said. “Defense is the key to the game. The greatest player who ever played, Michael Jordan, was a great defender. If he can play defense, anybody should play defense.”
Goodwin played quarterback on his middle school football team and played some baseball before his stepfather said he decided it “was kind of hot out there.” After his freshman season, he concentrated solely on basketball.
He also has maintained about a 3.0 grade-point average with only an occasional push from his parents.
“There might have been one time me and his mom had to sit him out of an AAU game, but that got his attention and we never had to worry about academics again,” Humphrey said. “Archie knows I was hard on him, but he understood why. In order to be successful, you have to be disciplined. I taught him if he did not anchor down, he would get taken for a ride. He listens and sucks up everything. He really is a good kid.”
Goodwin is not worried about being overwhelmed by the media and fan attention that Kentucky basketball players receive daily.
“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,” he said. “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.”
He also won’t hide from the pressure. He’s already openly talked about winning a national title, just as Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer did at this time a year ago.
“I think that is the good kind of pressure we want. 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. Sweet 16 and Final Fours are good, but with the tradition like that at Kentucky, 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.”
His stepfather chuckles when asked if he worries about the pressure and expectations Goodwin faces.
“I figure he will be just fine. I read how some say this recruiting class not as good as the class that just won the national championship. A lot of stuff like that I tell him and let him read that to show him what people are saying and why he has to work so hard,” Humphrey said. “It is just me adding fuel to the fire. He sucks it up and goes right to the gym to work. Any negative stuff I read, I give to him. You have to be honest with the kid, but I use it to motivate him.”
Humphrey says Goodwin has thought about being a one-and-done player, and he said Calipari’s success in developing NBA talent played a role in his stepson’s college choice.
“His dream is to play professional basketball. He just figured out which school could help that, and going to play for coach Cal seemed the best by far,” Humphrey said. “I don’t know how all this will play out in the years ahead. But I tell him all the time, ‘However, this turns out, we will have had one hell of a run and I will still love you, so just take things one day at a time and enjoy the moment.’”