Alex Poythress Aiming to Rebound After a Disappointing Freshman Debut

Andy Lyons

Leading up to Big Blue Madness A Sea of Blue will be previewing each scholarship player on the 2013/2014 basketballl team. First up is sophomore Alex Poythress.

Alex Poythress had an up and down freshman campaign at the University of Kentucky. He came in as a highly touted five star recruit out of Tennessee. He had the reputation as a big time scorer in high school and had an NBA ready body and skill set. ESPN's Chad Ford had Poythress ranked as the top pick in the NBA draft in one of his early mock drafts.

Things started off with a bang for Alex as he scored 20 or more points in four of the first five games of his career, including a 20 point and eight rebound outing in a seven point loss to the Duke Blue Devils. And then things headed south. He scored only three points in an embarrassing road loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and would score 20 points or more only twice more that season. Fans were left scratching their heads as the physically impressive Poythress seemingly mentally checked of games on a regular basis.

Coach John Calipari appeared to be at his wits end with Poythress as well. He called the forward out multiple times in the media and seemed just as confused as the fans. Cal was forced to bench Poythress for being in foul trouble, not playing hard, and he also did not start in multiple games. Poythress failed to score in double digits in the last five games of the season.

At the end of the disastrous 2012/2013 season Alex decided to forgo a likely pick up in the first round of the NBA draft to come back to Kentucky.

Rumors out of early workouts are good for Poythress. New comer Julius Randle is pushing him in practice and forcing him to develop a nasty streak that is lacking. There are positive signs that Poythress will live up to his initial hype and grow as a player in his sophomore campaign.

Measurements:

Height - 6-7

Weight - 239

Position - Forward

Last Year's Statistics - 11.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists

Strengths:

Poythress has an extremely diverse offensive game. Highlight dunks and post work are just a small part of his repertoire. He is also a very good outside shooter for his size and shot a very high percentage (40%) from behind the three point line last season. He has a big frame and can be a bull under the basket while gathering rebounds or getting in position for loose balls.

Weaknesses:

He has a tendency to disappear from games as was noted earlier. His heart and motor were constantly questioned throughout the 2012/2013 season. Whether he struggles with confidence or the ability to play at a high level on a consistent basis, Poythress has to figure out what it takes to make himself tick or he may find himself on the bench as competition for playing time will be fierce this season.

Coach Calipari on Poythress:

"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."

2013/2014Expectations:

Alex Poythress will most likely play the small forward position as Julius Randle will no doubt start at power forward. This position will make him an absolute nightmare for opposing small forwards. It was reported that Poythress was recently measured at a Kevin Durant skill camp and was measured at 6-9 and 231 pounds. If these measurements are accurate, I'm not sure there is another small forward in the country that contends with his size, athleticism and his offensive diversity.

Alex will be a different player thanks to the motivation from Randle and the threat of losing a starting position. There will be no excuses this season. John Calipari has more options that he did in 2012 and anyone giving less than 100% will be watching the game beside his coach.

Poythress will prove that he is indeed an NBA lottery pick and will be the X-factor that will take this team to a championship level.

2012/2013 Highlight Reel:

This proves that he has the ability to dominate in games.


In the Next Preview: Willie Cauley-Stein Looks to Mature on and off the Court

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