Following in the footsteps of teammates Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky forward Alex Poythress will return to Lexington for his sophomore season, according to Nicole Auerbach of USA Today:
Alex Poythress will return to Kentucky, the school announced.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) April 2, 2013
Poythress, who was considered top-flight recruit when arriving at Kentucky, scored 11.2 points and grabbed six rebounds per night as a freshman. While an integral part of the team's defensive scheme, Poythress faded down the stretch offensively.
He scored in double figures just twice in Kentucky's final 13 games, including a six-point effort in the Wildcats' loss in the NIT to Robert Morris.
Perhaps more than anything, Poythress’ offensive woes are the reason he’s returning to Lexington. He was unable to show any real improvement as a jump-shooter off the dribble, and his continuous failure to take advantage of his physical advantage turned NBA scouts off in a big way.
ESPN’s Chad Ford (membership required) dropped Poythress all the way to No. 21 on his big board prior to his decision and graded him out as a mid-first-round pick. For a player who came into college as a likely lottery pick, Poythress’ precipitous fall from the NBA graces had to weigh on his mind.
What’s more, Poythress’ return to Kentucky could help him atone for not delivering on the team-wide expectations.
Seen as a repeat national championship contender, the Wildcats’ loss to Robert Morris was the culmination of a disappointing season. John Calipari’s squad went just 21-12 for the season and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since he took over. It was a frustrating campaign for everyone in Lexington, all of whom had become accustomed to excellence under Calipari.
A return to that Division I dominance could be coming as soon as 2013-14. Kentucky boasts one of the best freshman recruiting classes in recent memory, with three of the nation’s top four players and five of the top 11 having committed to the Wildcats, per 247Sports.
With Cauley-Stein and Wiltjer joining those freshmen next season, Poythress looks like he'll be making sure Kentucky returns to its net-cutting ways next season.