No matter what happens during the rest of the November signing period, John Calipari and University of Kentucky basketball fans will go into the spring feeling much better about the Cats' recruiting class of 2012.
Alex Poythress, a five-star small forward and arguably Calipari's biggest target this fall, signed with UK over Memphis, Vanderbilt and Florida on Thursday.
"It was a really tough decision," Poythress told Rivals.com. "I just felt I could get better as a player at Kentucky, and I was comfortable there. Their player development is impressive, and I'll be able to practice against the best players in the country. I wanted competition."
The Clarksville, Tenn., native joins five-star shooting guard Archie Goodwin and four-star center Willie Cauley in a class that will now rank among the top five in the country.
"No. 1, Alex is a very mature person," Poythress's high school coach, Al Cooper, told ESPN.com. "He's thoughtful and bright, analytical, and there's a reason why he's a 3.9 student. Everything he does — class work or scouting reports — he thinks things out. This process hasn't been a stressor; he's done his homework."
Rivals.com rates Poythress as the No. 19 prospect in the country. Scout.com, ESPN and MaxPreps also have him in the top 20.
The 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward was recently described by Rivals.com analyst Jerry Meyer as "a more explosive athlete than Terrence Jones." Like Jones, he can score off the dribble or from the perimeter, and he has a reputation as an excellent rebounder.
"He's an extremely gifted athlete that can run like a gazelle," Cooper told ESPN.com. "He has a huge wingspan, and the best fit for him was someone who allows him to face the basket and attack."
Those attributes caught Calipari's attention during Poythress's breakout performance at the Peach Jam event in July. The UK coach offered him a scholarship less than a week after the summer showcase.
Poythress then made his official visit to Lexington for last month's Big Blue Madness. Goodwin and Cauley were two of the other recruits visiting that weekend.
Calipari said Thursday that he would talk about his new recruits with the media at the end of the November signing period.
Vanderbilt was the first major college to offer Poythress a scholarship — in February 2010 — and the Commodores were generally seen as the favorite until UK got further involved over the summer.
Memphis, led by Calipari's former assistant Josh Pastner, was seen as a possible destination for Poythress in recent weeks, but the Tigers staff couldn't close the deal in the final days.
"It's a nerve-wracking experience because you've got relationships with all three (head coaches)," Poythress told the Commercial Appeal of Memphis. "It's like breaking up with a girlfriend, really. You don't want to do it, but you have to sometimes."
Three top recruits already secured, Kentucky is also involved with No. 1 overall recruit Shabazz Muhammad and five-star players Anthony Bennett, Jarnell Stokes, Amile Jefferson and Devonta Pollard. Jefferson will make his decision early next week, and Stokes could also pick a school next week. The other three will wait until the spring.
"(Kentucky) was just a place I felt comfortable with," Poythress said. "Coach Calipari is a good coach. I like their offense very well. I just felt like I can get better there."