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Alex Poythress on Julius Erving award watch list; Tyler Ulis on Bob Cousy list

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats will open the 2015-16 college basketball season as one of, if not the top team in most preseason rankings.

A big reason why is the return of senior forward Alex Poythress and sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis, who were both named to positional award watch lists by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Poythress is on the Julius Erving award watch list for the country's best forward. Ulis was one of 20 players selected to the Bob Cousy list for the nation's top point guard.

Despite a season-ending ACL injury that forced him to miss the final 29 games of the 2014-15 season, Poythress is just 90 rebounds shy of becoming the 52nd player in program history to grab 500 or more career boards. He's also on pace to become the 61st player in school history to top 1,000 career points. He will enter his senior season with 649 career points.

Ulis earned All-SEC Freshman Team recognition last season while playing in 37 games and leading UK in assists in 20 contests.. He did not commit a turnover in any of UK's final four games of the season during the NCAA Tournament run and finished the season ranked third in the country and first among league competition for his 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. 

Both lists will be narrowed down to 10 in mid-February and then five finalists will be selected in March. The winners of the awards will be presented at the second annual ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 8.