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Alex Poythress: “Last year was last year”

By KEITH TAYLOR, ktaylor@winchestersun.com

Alex Poythress began his collegiate career with a bang.

The former Tennessee Mr. Basketball scored 20 or more points in four of his first five games at Kentucky and reached double figures in eight of his first 10 games. Despite the fast start, Poythress struggled to regain the same level of consistency he enjoyed during the first month in his first season with the Wildcats.

He averaged 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and ranked second on the team in both categories. He scored 20 or more points in four consecutive games, becoming the first Kentucky freshman since Dwight Anderson during the 1978-79 season to achieve the 20-point plateau. His early numbers signaled a jump to the NBA at the end of the season, but his stock eventually plunged, and Poythress opted to return to Kentucky for a second season.

Although his draft status played a role in his decision to return, Kentucky’s disappointing 21-12 season that ended with a loss to Robert Morris in the opening round of the NIT, left a sour taste in Poythress’ mouth, prompting the Clarksville, Tenn., power forward to stay for at least one more season.

Poythress has already put last season in his rear-view mirror and isn’t looking back.

“Last year was last year,” he said. “We’re just trying to focus on this year and do great things. I’ve already put last year behind me. It is what it is. You can’t change the past.”

He’s also not giving a second thought on his decision to return to Kentucky.

“I have no regrets,” he said. “I made my decision and I told myself I wouldn’t look back at it.”

During the summer, Poythress participated in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy and spent more time dribbling the basketball than sharpening his shooting and rebounding skills. He also spent time on campus for a couple of months.

“I worked on my ball-handling,” he said. “I’ve been working on my mid-range game, and I think it’s coming along real good. I’ve been trying to add (those skills) to my package. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on individual stuff. It’s coming along. We did a lot of individual workouts, and I’m just trying to become an all-around better player.”

The growing pains Poythress endured as a freshman served as a learning experience for him.

“Sometimes when things don’t go your way, you’ve got to fight through adversity and cope with it,” he said. “It helped me a lot and helped me mature as a player, helped me grow up and mature. I have a different mentality going into this year. Sometimes you just need a different mentality, a different mind set. I need to be more aggressive out there and not be as passive. I’ve matured a lot from the last year. I’ve got the mentality I need to improve and get better.”

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  1. Theresa Crow

    Good to read this about Alex. In high school, he never had to play hard because he was easily the best one on the court (and I saw him play in a few games his senior year of h.s.). But he found out that he could not play that way in college and succeed. He is a very smart young man who puts the time in on his classwork and has found that he needs to do that for his basketball game, too. Good to know that he is growing his game and his mentality–can’t wait to see the improved Alex on the court!

    1. larryvaught

      Theresa you were one of the first to tell us about Alex, so I know you know him well. think he’s going to be a major surprise this year

  2. Larry T Clemons

    Input always determines OUTPUT…..Alex has made smart moves and is dedicated to being better everyday…no slumpy shoulders !

  3. stevec

    One thing I’ve noticed about the players the “Coach’ recruits is we not only are proud of what they can accomplish on the floor but more important who they are as individuals.

    1. larryvaught

      SteveC, you are exactly right about that

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