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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball 2013-14 Preview: #22 Alex Poythress




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In high school, Alex Poythress dominated each game he played, earning him the honor of being named Mr. Tennessee basketball and Gatorade State Player of the Year awards.  Poythress also earned his way onto the McDonald’s All-American team that featured former Kentucky player, Archie Goodwin.  Rivals ranked Poythress as the eighth over-all player of the 2012 recruiting class and the third best small forward of the class.  Poythress also was part of number one recruiting class, depending on source you look at, which consisted of Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein and himself.

At Kentucky Poythress will being entering his Sophomore season and with the amount of talent coming in to this year’s team, it is easy to overlook someone like Poythress.  However, that would be a mistake for any opposing team to make.  Poythress averaged last season with 11.2 points per game, six rebounds and averaged around 25.8 minutes per game.  Although, it’s easy for some fans to say that those stats are simply the result of a bad season and lack of depth, it’s not necessarily the case.  In fact, coach Cal has expressed his thoughts on what kind of player Poythress can be,

“Alex is prolific scorer with a multi-dimensional game. He’s big enough that he can take smaller players down low and create problems, but he’s too quick and too athletic for your typical forward to play him straight up. Alex has the potential to be a special player.” 
– Head coach John Calipari

With the ability to score and bring a multi-dimensional game, Poythress could be the missing piece to Kentucky’s national title hopes.  Sure, the in-coming freshman and the rest of the team will have to put in their fair share of work, but Poythress could be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” when other teams play against Kentucky.  Poythress has the ability to be a prolific shot blocker as well.  He is six-foot, eight-inches tall and has a build similar to Patrick Patterson.  Like Patterson, Poythress’ role will be similar this season, score off the dribble, block shots, create transitions and most importantly, be a leader.  Poythress mentioned how that he has developed his game since last season at SEC Media Day,

“I have a whole different demeanor. Just the way I approach the game. I am trying to be more aggressive out there as well as be more vocal and more of a leader.”

Having a leader is very important in order for this year’s team to be able to completely utilize all of its talent and help carry the team through hard times.  Pothress along side of Willie Cauley-Stein will do just that.  Poythress has experienced what it is like to play under coach Cal and what it is like to play for Kentucky.  In fact, he and Julius Randle have already been playing against one another in practice and have been pushing each other in what have been called “battles.”

“The competition this year is real good. Everyone is competing against somebody. Player battles are very good at every position.”

So, it seems as though last year’s season may have lit a new spark in the former Tennessee Mr. Basketball’s game.  This season we could see Poythress go from average performances, with a touch of superb performances sprinkled in to “Alex the Great,” where every game is fun to watch.  Randle should keep pushing Poythress to get better and vice versa.  Not only will Poythress better this year’s team on the court, but he’ll do so off the court as well by bring the team together and pushing his fellow players to go harder.

Players are even noticing the improvement that Poythress has made since last season.  In fact, Jarrod Polson even mentioned Poythress during the SEC Media Day,

On if anyone has surprised him …
“I mean it’s hard to put out one player but all the new guys have really surprised me. They’re all really talented in their own ways. The returners like Alex (Poythress), Willie (Cauley-Stein) and (Jon) Hood have gotten so much better. It’s just really exciting.”

The future is bright for Poythress and the Cats.  It will be interesting to see how the team gels together as the season progresses.  But, for the meantime, check out this video of Poythress playing against Duke last season.  In the clip, Poythress is dominate on rebounds, makes monster dunk after monster dunk, and even shoots the occasional jumper.  This is only part of what we can expect from Poythress this season.

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