Alex Poythress draft preview: ‘Going against the best … prepares you for the next level’

Kentucky forward Alex Poythress (22) went in for a first-half dunk against Wright State on Nov. 20, 2015, in Lexington.
Kentucky forward Alex Poythress (22) went in for a first-half dunk against Wright State on Nov. 20, 2015, in Lexington. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

About Poythress

The 6-foot-8 forward from Clarksville, Tenn., was named to CoSIDA’s Academic All-America Second Team after his senior season, and he was one of four finalists for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Player of the Year Award. … He returned from an ACL injury in his left knee in 2014-15 and averaged 10.2 points and 6.0 rebounds during his final year. … He missed the final 29 games of his junior season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee during a practice in early December. … Poythress was an All-SEC Freshman Team pick in 2013 after averaging 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds.

What analysts are saying

Chad Ford, ESPN: “I think he’s a possible second-round pick because he’s an elite athlete, and I think he can defend multiple positions, and I actually hear he’s shot it pretty well in workouts. That’s what he projects, is a guy coming off the bench, playing great defense and hitting some spot-up 3s. If he can just do that I think he has a long career in the NBA. It’s the question about will he be a great 3-point shooter that teams are concerned about. He shot it really well his freshman year, kind of went down from there. I see — I watched him work out several times in (Los Angeles), I think I see the potential there for him to become that, and you can’t teach his athleticism.”

Josh Riddell, DraftExpress: “His draft potential still revolves largely around his physical profile with his 6-8 height and 6-11 wingspan providing him with a nice foundation as a potential combo forward. He also has some impressive athletic ability and doesn’t seem to have lost anything since his ACL tear early in his junior season. He has a strong, developed frame at 240 pounds with great open court speed and explosiveness in the half court that makes him a physically imposing prospect, particularly on the defensive end.”

What Poythress is saying

SEC Country (June 20): “I wouldn’t trade my years at Kentucky for the world. I matured. I learned how to handle things. I had everything thrown my way, different adversities — I’ve been through it all — and I just learned how to take a punch and get back up and keep on fighting. … I’m getting a lot of good feedback from all the teams I’ve been working out with. They say with my explosiveness, I look like I’m back. … I know people gave up on me, but I never gave up on myself.”

NBA.com (June 15): “My body feels great. I did a little bit more rehab after the season and my body feels the best that it’s felt (since before the ACL injury). … I can’t control how people see me. I just come in and prepare to work each and every day. I’ve been through a lot of adversity. A lot of this stuff doesn’t faze me no more, so I’ve just got to come in and work hard. … Going against the best each and every day, practicing against the best and getting coached by the best, it prepares you for the next level.”

NBA.com (June 2): “It’s crazy. You get to play with the best each and every day. Each and every year, you have guys going to the next level. I’m just grateful to get my opportunity now to play with a lot of them. I’m just happy to be up there with them.”

DraftExpress (June 1): “I see my role being a guy that can guard multiple positions, 2 through 4 or even 2 through 5. I have a pretty long wingspan. Hitting corner threes, spacing the floor out, because you know its all about floor spacing the way the game is going. … I started shooting a lot better towards the end of the year, and I just kept building on that. So now I’m real confident with my shot. If I’m open I’m going to let it go, but I’m still working on it each and every day.”

What Coach Cal is saying

“I am so proud of Alex right now. These teams are calling me back like, saying, he’s gotten healthy, he has leg strength on both sides, which some of that falls on us where he was probably injured more than we thought throughout this year. But shooting and all that. All of a sudden, he becomes that solid second round — maybe he slips late first (round). … If there’s a better athlete, a more dominating kind of athlete in this draft, tell me who he is. So, if someone picks this kid, I think they’re going to have a guy and then they’re going to look at me and say, ‘You didn’t do a very good job with this kid because he’s way better than we thought.’ And you know what? That may be the case. But I know this: There’s not a better person — kid’s like a 4.0 student, he graduated in three years, he graduated in three years — than Alex. You don’t go wrong with a pick like that.”

Draft projections







Not in

first round

Basketball Insiders


CBS Sports






NBA.com Consensus

Not in lottery

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