It seems to have become a broken record, but everyone has stressed the frustrations over the play of Alex Poythress. Just looking at him from a physical standpoint, Kentucky fans know he can rebound and attack the basket against any player in the country. However, there have been several games this season where Alex seems to disappear in games or seem generally disinterested, primarily the Louisville and Notre Dame games. The struggles of Alex combined with the emergence of Willie Cauley-Stein has caused Poythress to come from off the bench. The development of Poythress into the player that Calipari and the rest of Big Blue Nation knows he can become is key to the success of this team heading into conference play.
However, Big Blue Nation has been a bit harsh on Poythress when you look at his whole body of work. For starters, averaging 14.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Perhaps college basketball fans and Kentucky fans more importantly have been spoiled by great players who started with great performance right out of the gate. Alex’s stats are actually outstanding for the overwhelming majority of college freshman.While many of those points come from the stretch of games from Duke to LIU Brooklyn, he has still shown that he can be an extremely dominant player especially against the number 1 team in the country. This is also the most infuriating part of his entire body of work. Everyone knows he has the talent to put up 20 per game and rebound at will yet he continues to shy away from contact and struggle with playing aggressive.
Personally, I am confident that he will become a dominant force for this team because he is too talented and Calipari is too good of a coach for him not to develop. However, his motor and passion are the keys to him becoming this player rather than any type of skill development. If Alex Poythress had the same passion and motor as Nerlens Noel, he would more than likely be a leading candidate for Freshman of the Year right now. Unfortunately as players like Julius Mays have pointed out, Alex is naturally a quiet kid who does not show a lot of emotion on or off the court. Still, Alex is still projected as a lottery pick so he has clearly proven himself to scouts who have a greater knowledge of basketball than any of us.
Overall, Alex Poythress has all of the tools to become a great player, and we have known this since Calipari offerred him a scholarship. Calipari has made it clear that he is individually working with Poythress to push him to become the player that Calipari envisioned when he was scouting him. This team is extremely close to turning into the dominant squad that caused many people to have them as the #3 team in the nation in preseason rankings. While it may not be good to put an extreme amount of pressure on one player, we all know Alex Poythress playing at full speed with a sense of dominance is crucial to this team winning the SEC over great teams like Florida and Missouri