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By LARRY VAUGHT
Regina Poythress already felt good about her son’s decision to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. However, she felt even better about sending her son, Alex, to UK after watching the Wildcats win the national championship.
“It was pretty exciting watching Kentucky win the championship and it does make me feel even better about him going to Kentucky. I know they will take really good care of him and they want him to be successful as much as I do,” said Regina Poythress.
Alex Poythress, a 6-8 forward, averaged 31.1 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 blocks for the Clarksville (Tenn.) Northeast and scored 2,080 career points. He scored 19 points in the McDonald’s All-American Game after being named the Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year and Class AAA Mr. Basketball during his senior year.
“I was super proud of him in the all-star games. We are thrilled the world got to see what he has to offer,” Poythress’ mother said. “I am only glad to know he will get even better because he has that inner drive. He was in the gym working every day to get ready for the Jordan (Brand Classic) game. Even on Easter he left after the Easter egg hunt to train and work out. We always hunt eggs and I still put money in the eggs, even for the big kids. He loves that, but he had to go get in his work for that game.”
His mother says that’s the type character her son has always had.
“He is a good young man. I am so proud of him. He’s always been humble and had great character. He just has an inner pride to succeed. He was such a joy to raise. He is what you see. He’s so genuine, and always has been. He will be that way at Kentucky, too,” Regina Poythress said.
Poythress understands humble. He might have been a McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, but he had a job at Wendy’s to earn extra money. He didn’t make his sixth-grade team because even his mother admits he was a “little awkward” and that drove him to join a travel league team.
“His sister made it (middle school team) before him. That was a difficult time. She was so athletic and very competitive,” Regina Poythress said. “She could compete with all the little boys in the neighborhood. He was very sensitive because his sister could beat him in basketball and they all let him know it. But she beat other guys, too.
“He was wearing a size 13 or 14 shoe. He was tall and awkward. When he was younger, he could just always shoot layups and score because he was always the tallest player. When he was in middle school he still had not learned to control his body. That changed when he got to eighth grade and in ninth grade he blossomed.
“It was difficult as a mother to watch. I have a twin brother and we played basketball. He went to Kentucky Wesleyan, so I know about sibling rivalry. But getting beat by his sister motivated him. She helped motivate him to do well. He was not terrible, so he just tried out for another AAU team and coach (Al) Cooper put him on the team and he got better.”
He got so much better that he eventually played for Cooper’s high school team, became one of the nation’s top players and now is at Kentucky working out with other Wildcats to prepare for his first season.
“When he sets his mind to things, he does them,” Regina Poythress said. “I think he’s going to be fine at Kentucky. I know they really lost a lot of good players off last year’s team, but they have new players that are good now and Alex thinks they are going to have a really good team.”