Dec 4, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Alex Poythress (22), guard Archie Goodwin (10) and forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) walk on the court after a timeout in the game against the Samford Bulldogs at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Samford 88-56. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Willie Cauley-Stein & Alex Poythress Talk About Return to UK, Expectations Next Season


 

 

 

Courtesy of UK Athletics, here is the transcript of today’s press conference with Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress in their first meeting with the media since announcing they would both bypass the NBA Draft and return for their sophomore seasons:

 

Willie Cauley-Stein Comments

 

On his decision to not enter the draft this year …

“I mean, I go this year and go late first round or come back for another year with the chance of going in the draft a little earlier, so staying was almost a no brainer. Plus I enjoy school. It wasn’t like I was in any rush to leave. I never thought that I’d be a one-and-done anyway so to come back wasn’t that big of a deal.”

 

On whether or not this season affected his decision …

“It just put a bad taste in my mouth. When I feel like something is empty I want to fill it, and I think that next year we have a great chance of doing that.”

 

On his family’s influence in his decision on the draft ….

“They just said that it was up to me. That they’d survived this long without whatever I would make in the pros, so what’s another year or two?”

 

On what he likes about school …

“You don’t get these years back, so why grow up when you don’t have to. Plus I just like the college life. I like that here everyone knows who I am, that experience is fun.”

 

On what Coach Calipari wants him to do next season …

“He just wants me to step up as more of a vocal and hands-on leader. This year I was put in a situation where I had to step up and lead, but I wasn’t really ready. Coming in I was really hesitant about what I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was in a place to try and lead guys that were more hype than me or guys who were supposed to be playing better than me. So I just stayed back and watched instead of taking action like he wanted me to.”

 

On the team’s potential next season …

“Potential is exactly that. We had the potential this season and didn’t capitalize on it. So we could easily have the best recruiting class and not do anything with it; it’s that simple. If you don’t come together and do things right, then you’re just a bunch of talented kids that didn’t do anything with it.”

 

On why next year might be harder and different …

“The hype is going to be different because there are so many guys coming next year. We have 10 potential first round picks coming, and they’ll have to play with each other every day. Coach doesn’t want the same thing that happened this year to happen next year so he’s going to change a bunch of things so that doesn’t happen. Intensity is going to pick up and the level of how we play is going to go up tremendously.”

 

On his impression of the recruiting class …

“To be honest I haven’t really watched them play, but their height is a positive. They should be really good.”

 

On the ability to get better because of the players coming in …

“To me, that’s the best thing about next year, is that you’re going against pros every day. This year it was like that until Nerlens got hurt and then it was like playing against Brian Long; and then you’re not getting better. You’d dominate in practice and get to a game and struggle. But next year it’s going to be a lot different. And that’s what I’m going to capitalize on every day. Going at these dudes every day because it’s not only going to make me better, but it’s going to make our team better. And it’ll make them better as well.”

 

On how he plans on being different next season …

“Definitely bringing each other together early. (Coach)Calalways talks about coming together and at the rate that we were going, we were coming together right when the tournament started. But this year I want to start that way early. Like having group meetings in the summer and going out to eat; doing silly stuff like that. I think things like that will really help bring us together and that’s one of my big things that I’m going to go into the summer with.”

 

On what he heard in the media and how that affected his decision about the NBA Draft …

“I heard a wide variety of things which is kind of what set me off. I heard anywhere from 8-10, 15-20, 22-25, and that’s the whole dang scale. That’s everywhere. I didn’t feel comfortable taking a chance on it and landing somewhere that I’m not going to be good at when I could come back and help.”

 

On any pieces of advice for the freshmen …

“The biggest thing that I could say is just knowing from the get go that it’s real. We started off really good and then we started losing and it was just like wow, we’re not as good as we thought we were. And that’s the biggest thing. Every game you play has to be hype. You have no time to relax when you step in between those lines. And it’s all business once you do.”

 
Alex Poythress Comments

 

On if it was an easy or tough decision to return to school …

“It was a pretty tough decision. I had to weigh my options, but I am happy with my choice to come back and will have to live with it.”

 

On how long it took to make his decision …

“I’m not really sure. It was a long process. You just want to make sure your heart is in it and make sure you make the right decision, and I feel like I did.”

 

On what he will do during the summer to improve his game …

“Just do all of the little things like workout all of the time and get in the gym as much as I can. I’ll try to drag other people to the gym with me like Willie (Cauley-Stein) and just try to work hard for next year.”

 

On what the process was in the making his decision …

“Just talking to my mom and my parents. Really just trying to figure out what they were thinking, getting their input, and talking to the assistant coaches. I talked toCoachCal(Calipari) to try and get his input and decide what was the best decision for me.”

 

On how much he discussed the process with the other guys in similar situations …

“I talked to Willie and Archie (Goodwin) a lot. Those were the two players I talked to the most because they were going through what I was.”

 

On Archie Goodwin’s decision to go to the draft …

“I am not surprised. Archie is a very hard worker and I think he will do fine in the league. He just has to work hard and show that he belongs. I am happy for him and hope he has a bright future.”

 

On if last year’s success played a role in returning to school …

“We have big expectations for next year. We just want to come prepared everyday. The goal is a championship and nothing less. That is the ultimate goal, and that is what we want so we just have to work hard and try to accomplish that.”

 

On how he would rate his freshman year …

“I think I had a decent year. There is always room for improvement. We are just focused on next year now.”

 

On if he forgets about last year or will use it for motivation for the upcoming season …

“We can use it as motivation. We don’t want next year to end up like this year. With the guys coming in and the people returning, we must have a fire burning in our belly. We don’t want to repeat last year so we have to work hard.”

 

On looking forward to next year’s roster …

“It’s going to be a nice roster. We will have a lot of competition. We will have to go hard everyday. We will be competing against top competition so it should be good for us.”

 

On if it was hard seeing Louisville win the national championship …

“Yes it was kind of hard when you have a rival school win like that. I’m happy for them at the same time, but hopefully that will be us next year.”

 

On how experiencing last year will make him a better player ….

“It prepares you mentally. You have to be mentally prepared for everything. When you are losing, that is when you figure out what people are really made of. So, it just helps mentally.”

 

On what Coach Calipari told him after the Robert Morris game …

“He just told me that they wanted me back and that another year would help me in the long run to work on my confidence, mentality, and that everything will work itself out.”

 

 

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