This past season was not the best season for the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team or Alex Poythress. But there is something to be said for Poythress’s decision to return to Kentucky. Let’s face it. Due to his inconsistent season, Poythress was seen by many fans as one of the problems with the Wildcats this year and his name came up frequently in the “who hijacked the season” comments. And to be honest, it would have been an easy way out to “take the money and run” to the NBA for Alex. I know he was not going to be a lottery pick, but getting picked in the first round of the NBA Draft is a big chunk of change for a college freshman. And the NBA does draft on potential. But Poythress starred down the dollars and returned to Kentucky for his sophomore season.
In an interview with Larry Vaught, Poythress’s father Antoine, acknowledges that he did receive “conflicting information” on his son’s draft status. But also the chance for personal redemption and a NCAA Title also played into his son’s decision to return:
“From his standpoint, he did not like the way the season ended,” Antoine Poythress said. “He would like to come back and win a national title and thinks they can do that with the players they will have. That definitely did factor into his decision. Losing this year did not set well with him. It’s not a foregone conclusion they will go 40-0 next year and win the national title. They will have seven or eight freshmen and three or four upperclassmen. It’s a matter of how they blend and mix.”
Kentucky never had the right “blend and mix” this season and ended up in the NIT. Antoine Poythress says a few more wins could have changed the perception of his son’s ability and the team’s standing.
“If they win two or three more games, get to the NCAA and win a game or two, the whole perspective of this year is different. It drives me crazy to think how a bounce or two of the ball can impact so much,” Antoine Poythress said. “But that’s the way it went and now Alex is set to come back, work to get better, have a great year and help Kentucky win the national title.”
One thing that this 2013-14 Wildcats team will not have is a lack of confidence. Already there is plenty of talk about a 40-0 season and while the players acknowledge it, they realize the recent history with this years team and that nothing will be just handed to them:
There were also high expectations for UK’s last group of crackerjack prospects. The Cats started the season ranked No. 3 in the nation and ended it dodging Robert Morris students who were frantically rushing the court to celebrate a victory in the NIT.
“It didn’t work out for them, but they were young,” Randle said. “And coming off the year that they had last year, it’s kind of a tough position to be in.”
Next season’s roster will also be young — three freshmen and two sophomores is about as seasoned a starting lineup as Calipari is likely to come up with.
The newest Wildcats all watched last season’s team falter, and they’re all aware of the pitfalls. But Randle talked as if youth wouldn’t be a problem the next time around. Not with this bunch.
His is a shared confidence.
“I think my class is just a team full of non-quitters,” Lee said. “They just refuse to lose and refuse to quit, especially with the twins, Julius Randle. They just refuse to lose.”
To these Cats, it’s becoming clear that any loss will come as a shock.
Just a few hours after he said he didn’t want to feed into the massive hype that’s already surrounding a group of players who have never played a college game, Randle was asked again about expectations.
Perhaps sensing that the line of questioning would continue throughout the rest of the spring, summer and fall, Randle changed his answer, just a bit.
“Is 40-0 a goal?” he was asked.
“Why not?” he replied.
Keeping with the theme of the UK recruits at the McDonald’s AA game, here is another video worth checking out. UNC commit Kennedy Meeks took the mic and interviewed the UK six and the results are well, amusing. While it is hard not to like Meeks even though he is a Tar Heel, Matt Jones from Duke shows he will be instantly disliked as a Dookie:
Poor Brandon Knight. Perhaps with her ego fueled by Mark Cuban talking her up, Britney Griner post the above picture on Instagram of her dunking on Knight. I really don’t know what to say….