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John Calipari says Alex Poythress will be centerpiece of Kentucky Basketball this year

There's no debating Alex Poythress can be one of the best players in college hoops if he puts his mind to it.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats figure to once again have one of the best teams in college basketball this coming season.

The big reason why is another loaded recruiting class that UK secured following seven players leaving for the 2015 NBA Draft. Among them are five-star prospects Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe.

However, Calipari told KSR this summer that he believes this team can be centered around senior forward Alex Poythress.

"What we do, it will center around Alex, I believe. Tyler and the guards are going to be what they are. Charles (Matthews) and Mychal (Mulder), Derek (Willis) — one of those guys will step up and break through a little bit. You’ve got: Marcus Lee’s way better, way more confident. Skal (Labissiere), seven-foot, and Isaac (Humphries), seven feet. But you don’t have a beast, and that’s Alex. So a lot of what will happen for us and our team is how quickly he can–you know–start being who he is."

Poythress, a 6-foot-8 forward from Clarksville, Tenn., was averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds for Kentucky this past season before suffering his torn ACL in practice. Coming into this season, Poythress has played in a team-high 81 career games with 39 starts. His experience on a UK team that lost seven players to the draft makes him one of the most invaluable players in college hoops this season.

"You don’t have anybody like him. You have no one that is that physical, that tough; that–you know–the ability to just go get balls and make plays. We have no one like that on the team. So if he does what he can do, the rest of the guys will fall into what they are."

Positionless basketball is something Calipari stresses every year, but Poythress' best chance at dominating the college game and having a career in the NBA will be at the four spot.

"That’s exactly what he can play and play well, and be a skilled four. And be a beast four."