Last year, I got to see the Kentucky Wildcats only one time, in Freedom Hall for the Big East/SEC Challenge. During warmups, I noticed that Stacey Poole was not a happy young man. He was wearing more of a scowl than a smile, and his body language was entirely negative. It was very easy to see him where we were, which was about 4 rows back from the floor under one of the baskets.
Today, Eric Lindsey has a piece up over at CoachCal.com that basically verifies my perception. Poole considered leaving Kentucky, but decided to stay after talking to his father and Coach Cal:
"Anybody would be (frustrated) when you’re not getting playing time," Poole said. "I talked about it with my parents and I talked with coach and I felt like if I was going to work hard at any place, why not do it here? You get more benefits out of doing it here. This place is the best of the best."
He's right. Poole is a talented player, among the best in his class, and he the second-lowest number of minutes played last year -- 45 total, 14 more than Jarrod Polson. For a player that was heavily recruited out of high school, this had to be an issue, and clearly was.
But Stacey Poole didn't throw in the towel and transfer. Instead, he rededicated himself to the effort that made Josh Harrellson a modern legend at Kentucky, and seems to have learned a lot from last year despite not getting in the game much:
"The bench can teach you something," Poole said. "I just tried to stay focused. I already know what to expect. I already know the routine. We’re probably going to throw some stuff in there, but mentally I’m going to be ready. I’m going to be prepared for anything."
That's the attitude Kentucky fans will love. It's hard to say if Poole has completely embraced what it takes to get on the court at Kentucky, but if he has, it will just add to Kentucky's depth and incrementally add to the opportunity Kentucky should have next year to compete for an NCAA Tournament championship.