In a column on his website, CoachCal.com, Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari announced that sophomore guard Stacey Poole, Jr. has decided to leave the basketball program and transfer to another university.
The decision seemed inevitable after rumors of Poole's departure surfaced prior to the season. Poole had not dressed for exhibition games against Transylvania and Morehouse, nor the season-opener against Marist. Earlier in the off-season, Kentucky fans had expected Poole to get increased playing time as the third guard behind starters Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague, especially after fellow shooting guard Jon Hood was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Instead, it appears Lamb will serve as the sixth man, a role that he thrived in last year, and senior forward Darius Miller will start at the 2, giving Kentucky a rather tall starting lineup. Even in this scenario, Poole would still have been in line for valuable playing time, and he could have chipped in 5 to 15 minutes per game in anticipation of a bigger role next year. Instead, Kentucky's backcourt depth takes a hit this season. Expect sophomore guard Jarrod Polson to get an increase in his limited backup minutes, and junior point guard transfer Twany Beckham could see an uptick in playing time as well.
As for Poole, because he didn't dress for any exhibition or regular season games, this year will count as his redshirt year as he explores his transfer options. After sitting out the 2012 fall semester, he would have three years of eligibility remaining at his new destination, making him an appealing prospect for many schools. Poole had previously considered South Carolina and Clemson coming out of high school. His father, Stacey Sr., played for Florida. Another consideration is that Poole's younger brother, Solomon Poole, is a highly regarded prospect in the class of 2013. It's possible the siblings would try to play together in college.
While Kentucky fans are no doubt disappointed that we never got to see Poole thrive in a Wildcat uniform, I'm sure you'll join me in wishing the best of luck to Poole wherever he goes. As Calipari puts it, "He will always be a part of our family and the Big Blue Nation."
After the jump, the full statement from Calipari.
When you talk about a players-first program, the most disappointing thing is when a young man doesn’t feel that he can accomplish his dreams where he is. I’m disappointed today.
We do everything we can to make sure no one is lost in the shuffle because this program is about every player from top to bottom.
We are asking our players to chase their dreams, be aggressive, go after it, but we also ask them to be patient because, at times, circumstances dictate opportunity.
Some players may be behind physically and with others the competition may be further ahead in their skill set or basketball knowledge. In any case the competitor must continue to work hard to prepare for any opportunity to shine. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s hard for players to deal with that.
In Stacey Poole’s case, I feel if he would have stayed, eventually he would have had a breakthrough and had his opportunity. I told his family, "Look, if he needs a week or two weeks to decide what he wants to do and he decides he wants to come back and play the year out, he can do that. I’ll do whatever he wants to do."
Having said that, Stacey and his family felt it is in his best interest to play somewhere else and I fully respect the family and their decision. I want to wish Stacey nothing but the best in whatever and wherever he chooses to go. He will always be a part of our family and the Big Blue Nation.