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Antoine Poythress knows what son can do if he is always aggressive


Just when it seemed that Alex Poythress has turned the corner and was ready to play the way coach John Calipari envisioned, the UK freshman took a step back at Arkansas.

Poythress had 21 points and seven rebounds in an overtime win over Missouri where he displayed the quick, powerful moves to the basket Calipari knew he had. Against Mississippi State, he came back with 16 points and eight rebounds. In the two games, he was a combined 15-for-21 from the field and had just one turnover.

At Arkansas, he got nine points and only four rebounds. He didn’t miss a shot, but he took only three. He picked up several careless fouls and eventually fouled out of the 73-60 loss after playing only 17 minutes. He also had three of UK’s 19 turnovers.

Count his father, Antoine Poythress, among those perplexed by the freshman’s play, too.

“I was so happy to see him have a good game (against Missouri),” Antoine Poythress said. “He finally seemed more relaxed. I talked to him and he said it wasn’t that he did anything different against Missouri. He was just more relaxed the last few weeks. He always tells me everything is fine.”

His father thought he played well during UK’s three-game win streak and was more aggressive on offense. “He even took a pull-up baseline jumper for the first time all year, and that’s a shot he can make,” Antoine Poythress said. “I know he’s young, but he has played a lot of basketball. I always expect him to do well.”

His numbers don’t look bad. He’s averaging 11.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game — both second on the team. He’s shooting a team-best 58.9 percent from the field and is 13-for-29 from 3-point range.

But who is the real Alex Poythress? Is it the player who scored 20 or more points in four straight games early in the season and had 21 against Missouri or is it the player who managed just 29 points in a five-game SEC stretch and went 1-for-9 at Florida and scored only four points at Tennessee?

“What he did against Missouri was not out of the ordinary. That’s what he is capable of doing,” his father said. “I know he can face, make up or two dribbles and power through guys like he did that game. He just needs to focus on one day, one game at a time and just play well. He is more than capable. He’s my kid, but I still think he is one of the best players in the country.

“Sometimes I think he is just not aggressive enough. That maybe comes with having teammates capable of doing things, but he has to understand he is capable of doing things and has to stay aggressive on both ends because that helps his teammates. I know he is not trying to do too much, but at times he has to do a lot more than he’s doing. I would be guessing to try to find a rhyme or reason for why he is not more aggressive at times. Part of it just comes from being around nice teammates and just wanting to fit in more so than doing what he is capable.

“Against Missouri, he did what he did within the flow of the offense and flow of the game. He just has to find that niche and just keep doing that. I tell him sometimes he is probably too efficient. There are not a lot of players shooting almost 60 percent from the field, but sometimes that percentage is too high because you are not taking enough shot. He does not have the personality to just come down and jack it up. He does not care if he does not take a lot of shots. He just wants to win and it’s not about personal accolades for him. But I tell him he needs to do well for his team, too.”

That is the same message Calipari has been telling Poythress and certainly will be true Thursday when the Wildcats play at Georgia in a game they must win to stay in NCAA Tournament contention.

“What I communicate to Alex is not being a selfish player, but that he has to score for his team to do well. He has to be aggressive enough to make his man play defense. I tell him to just show some aggression and not go a whole game without scoring or making solid attempts to score,” Antoine Poythress said.

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  1. John

    Antoine Poythress sounds like a smart man and good father.
    Thanks for raising a fine young man.
    We at BBN hope Alex continues to grow as a player and is is able to acheive all his goals.

    1. larryvaught

      John, Antoine is both. And Juan, I agree that at times Alex is just too nice

  2. Juan4UK

    Yeah, dad is certainly grounded. I’ve thought for some time that Alex is pretty polite. Too polite. And that he needs to understand that it is ok to turn the polite off once you are on the field of competition, and then back on again. Alex, and the team, are great kids but need to understand that on the field of play in any sport, that it IS GOOD to turn on your bad guy, aggressive self. Step off the court and be who you are. Everybody RESPECTS that even more, that you know/can turn it on and off at the right time.
    These are good kids, they are just young. That is all. We are taught all our lives to be polite and act well and all those things. So when freshmen defer too often, it is just a part of their maturation process. They would be just fine if they stay a second year after they had a chance to reflect on the big picture from the tentative Freshman season.

  3. Ben

    The college game has become a very physical game! If you are not prepared to bring it every second of every game, then you will be beat down every time. If you cannot handle College, what makes you think the NBA will be easier? No one on this KY team is ready for the NBA. They will go and end up in the development league or over seas!

  4. Kokamo Joe

    Anybody know what percentage of Calipari’s ex UK players are actually playing major roles on NBA teams?

    1. Karen Sprinkle

      Not sure of the percentage, and you’d have to define major role, but I would say, off the top of my head:
      Wall, Bledsoe, Cousins, Knight, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Patterson (before he was traded from Houston–not sure how he’s fitting in at Sacramento). Also possibly Kanter (not sure of his statistics). I may be missing some, but that’s a pretty good amount for three years’ worth of players.

    2. Rex

      Tyreke Evans and Derek Rose

  5. Anonymous

    Please give us something other than “potential” to remember you Alex…stay another year to develop your over all game. BBN loves nothing better than seeing our guys doing well for themselves and their families in the NBA. Get em big guy!

  6. Tom R

    I love watching Alex attack the basket with that quick spin move, but at times he gets double teamed and runs over somebody for a frustrating charging foul. I wish he would occasionally spin one way, then spin back the other direction like the pros do, bet it would make him less predictable!

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