Kentucky's Poythress to return for sophomore season

broberts@herald-leader.comApril 2, 2013 

Kentucky Wildcats forward Alex Poythress (22) dunks in the first half as Kentucky played Vanderbilt on Wednesday February 20, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff


At least half of last year's No. 1-ranked recruiting class will be returning to Kentucky next season to join an incoming collection of prospects some are calling the best of all time.

The Wildcats announced Tuesday evening that freshman forward Alex Poythress will return, a revelation that came one day after the team said 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein would also become a UK sophomore.

"I'm really happy that, after talking with his family and evaluating his options, Alex has decided to return for his sophomore season," Coach John Calipari said in a UK news release. "Alex is a great kid with a lot of potential and I'm excited to be able to work with him next year. I believe we have only scratched the surface with Alex, and another season in college will get him closer to reaching his dreams."

Poythress started in 31 of 33 games as a freshman and ranked second on the team in points (11.4) and rebounds (6.2) per game. He was also a Freshman All-Southeastern Conference selection.

"This year didn't end like we wanted it to," Poythress said in the release. "I want to come back and do what we said we wanted to do and that's win a national title. I want to develop more as a player and the competition coming in next year should help me do that."

Kentucky finished this season 21-12, missing out on the NCAA Tournament and losing at Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT.

Poythress and Cauley-Stein were joined in last year's top-rated recruiting class by Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel. UK announced Monday that Goodwin will enter the NBA Draft. Noel, who missed the season's final nine games after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, has yet to announce his plans. The 6-foot-10 shot-blocker is projected by some as the No. 1 pick in the draft should he decide to turn pro.

Kyle Wiltjer, a member of Calipari's No. 1-ranked recruiting class of 2011, said Monday that he also will be back next season. On Sunday, UK said point guard Ryan Harrow will transfer to Georgia State.

Add it all up, and Kentucky boasts a 2013-14 roster that contains eight McDonald's All-Americans, with possibly more help on the way.

Kentucky is among the finalists for the nation's No. 1 prospect, forward Andrew Wiggins, and has been in talks with Kentucky Mr. Basketball Dominique Hawkins of Madison Central.

UK said additional announcements regarding other players on the 2012-13 roster will be made at a later date.

After Tuesday's news, here is where things stand for the 2013-14 roster:

Returning players: Willie Cauley-Stein (7 feet), Alex Poythress (6-7), Kyle Wiltjer (6-10).

Incoming recruits: Aaron Harrison (6-5), Andrew Harrison (6-5), Dakari Johnson (6-10), Marcus Lee (6-9), Julius Randle (6-8), Derek Willis (6-9), James Young (6-6).

Potential recruits: Andrew Wiggins (6-7), Dominique Hawkins (6-1).

Status not yet announced: Nerlens Noel, Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson, Sam Malone, Tod Lanter, Brian Long.

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