As the Kentucky faithful are quickly approaching Big Blue Madness, fans are eager to learn as much as possible about the new players on the 2012-13 basketball roster. With that in mind, this will be the third submission in a series of articles discussing all of the newcomers for this season's team.
With that in mind, perhaps the most versatile and exciting new prospect is Alex Poythress. He is similar to Terrence Jones in the fact that he possesses good ball-handling and perimeter skills, while having the size and strength of a traditional power forward. Therefore, he should be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and is expected to be one of the leading scorers of the team.
Poythress is a freak athlete at 6'7", 239 pounds and should be the team's starting small forward. However, his versatility and strength will allow him to fill in as a power forward and shooting guard at times. He will likely be utilized in a multitude of different ways in a number of lineups.
In fact, this will be the biggest hurdle facing Poythress. He can do a little bit of everything, but that also means that he does not have a defined exact role. Since he is only a freshman, it will take time to figure out all of Alex's strengths and weaknesses as a player.
Is he strong enough to play in the paint? Will he be an elite rebounder? How consistent is his outside shooting stroke? Does he have the quickness necessary to defend athletic guards? Will he be assertive on offense or just get lost in the shuffle?
Until these questions are answered, Poythress will see time all over the court, so he will likely have the least defined role of any starter. At the same time, this does not mean that he is likely to struggle. In fact, Alex has all of the tools to excel as a team leader.
There is no four in our league that can guard him off the bounce. They’d have to just back away and hope he’s not making shots.
Current UK player Jon Hood also praised Poythress' ability and skill set, saying that "he attacks the rim better than anybody I’ve ever seen."
Alex showed off his skills on the biggest stage in high school during last year's McDonald's All-American game. He was the breakout player of the game, as he poured in 19 points and impressed the game's MVP, Shabazz Muhammad. He had this to say about facing Poythress,
Alex was giving us a hard time on the boards with his big body and playing the perimeter at 6'8" is really good.
In the end, the sky is the limit for Alex Poythress. He has the size, the strength and the talent to excel and emerge as one of the country's best players. His versatility will allow him to play in a multitude of ways and gives the roster great flexibility. However, it will be up to him to define his role on the team and play with consistency.
As long as Alex lives up to his potential, he should average 14 points, eight rebounds, one steal and one block per game for the Wildcats. If he does so, then 2012-13 will be a great season for him and the Kentucky program.