University of Kentucky men's basketball junior Alex Poythress will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Thursday in practice.
"When you're coaching other people's children and these children have high aspirations and unlimited potential — not only to do things for themselves but for other people — I can't begin to tell you the feeling when someone gets hurt,” Coach John Calipari said in a UK news release Friday morning. "My own son, Brad, tore his ACL last year. All I can tell you is I was physically sick when it happened to him. I feel exactly the same way now that it's happened to Alex."
Poythress, a Clarksville, Tenn., native, is averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 20.3 minutes a game this season. He was on the preseason All-SEC second-team this fall. He also was on the SEC All-Freshman team after the 2012-13 season. He is on track to graduate in the spring.
Poythress has started all eight games in which he has played. He sat out two games with an illness.
A date for surgery has not been set yet, UK said. The normal timetable for recovery from ACL reconstructive surgery is six to eight months.
"Our team was devastated for Alex when I told them," Calipari said. "There were tears throughout the room because this hurt them to the core. How they will respond I really don't know, but I will do my best to be there for each of these kids.
"I told them, this is a big blow to our team. No one will be able to replace Alex and what he did for this team. I go back to last year's NCAA Tournament. Without Alex, we don't win those games. No one will be able to replace him, but now everybody has to do a little bit more as we try to circle the wagons."
Poythress had four points and two rebounds in Kentucky's most recent game, a 56-46 win over Columbia on Wednesday night. The top-ranked Wildcats (10-0) are preparing to take on No. 21 North Carolina on Saturday in Rupp Arena.
It was the second major knee injury for a Kentucky star in less than two years. On Feb. 12, 2013, Nerlens Noel landed awkwardly after blocking a shot against Florida and tore his ACL. He was drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers but sat an entire season.
Calipari is scheduled to meet with the media Friday afternoon to discuss Saturday's game.
Kentucky was already operating with a thinner-than-usual roster. Freshmen guards Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker sat out Wednesday's game with minor injuries. Their status for Saturday's game is not yet known.
Poythress arrived at Kentucky as a McDonald’s All-American. He started 31 games as a freshman and was the team’s second-leading scorer at 11.2 points per game. He also averaged 6.0 rebounds. Last season, Poythress moved to the team’s sixth-man role, in which he averaged 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
The most recent projections for the 2015 NBA Draft showed Poythress as a probable second-round selection.
Poythress's UK teammate, Aaron Harrison, posted a message on Instragram overnight that said, in part, "I can't describe how much I feel for (Poythress). He's not only my teammate but he's one of my best friends and it's really sad to see him down. ... We all know that he's going to come back even stronger!"