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By ASHLEY SCOBY
Alex Poythress could be a “beast.” But does he care enough to reach that potential?
This has long been the criticism of the forward virtually ever since he came to Lexington. His quiet on-the-court demeanor, lacking all the bells and whistles that some of his athletic counterparts tout, has led Kentucky fans to think he doesn’t care.
He doesn’t pound his chest enough. He doesn’t scream enough. He doesn’t smile enough.
The criticisms come fast and furious, especially when the team is losing, as they have been this year. But someone who has known Poythress longer than any Kentucky fan believes that that is just Poythress’ personality and that his reserved demeanor doesn’t affect how well he can play the game of basketball.
Chandler Cooper, daughter of Poythress’ high school coach Al Cooper, now plays basketball for the University of Florida. She has been close friends with Poythress since they were kids and still stays in touch with him even after they graduated high school last year. The Clarksville, Tenn. natives have long shared the love of basketball, as well as the connection to Al.
Cooper says that although Poythress doesn’t necessarily demonstrate his passion for the game vocally, that fire is definitely there.
“I get to see him on the court all the time,” she said. “He works out with my little brother all the time. Just seeing his dedication off the court, it definitely translates on the court.”
Poythress’ shy personality may not transfer on the court as well as his dedication, however. Someone who is quiet and introverted is more likely to be misunderstood, especially in the sports arena. But Poythress’ long-time friend disagrees with the connection made between his personality and his on-court mentality.
“I don’t know if you can really correlate his personality to the court that much,” Cooper said. “He’s a dominant player. Yes, he is a quiet guy off the court. But… that doesn’t relate at all to basketball.”
Whether the relationship between personality and play is warranted or not, sports fans will undoubtedly make those connections. Kentucky fans in particular are known for analyzing every possible component of a player – physically, mentally and emotionally.
With Poythress, that analysis has more times than not led to the idea that Poythress doesn’t care. Cooper was there to shoot down that notion as well.
“He’s a little bit shy and reserved, and I’m sure they (fans) already know that,” she said. “That is his personality but when he gets on the court, they see dominant Alex and him screaming and yelling and getting hype, so there are those two sides of him. I know the criticism comes from him looking like he may not really be there sometimes but he is.”