Kentucky junior forward Alex Poythress is going to be one of the more important players this college basketball season.
As an elder statesman on another loaded Wildcat team with national title aspirations, the 6-foot-8 forward might hold the key to Kentucky’s fate this season. While John Calipari recruited another crop of McDonald’s All-Americans to bolster the front line and add a point guard in Tyler Ulis and a wing in Devin Booker, Booker is probably not ready to play crunch-time minutes from a mental or physical standpoint this season.
Enter Poythress, who struggled from the perimeter last season and will be asked to play more on the wing this season. According to a story from Larry Vaught of Central Kentucky News, Poythress is already working on his perimeter skills.
“I feel like I am getting more comfortable each and every day playing out there. Cal told me great job playing out there. Letting me play out there and try to prove myself,” Poythress said to Vaught.
Poythress also told Vaught that he’s been working on getting shots up this offseason. The three-point percentage for Poythress dipped from 42 percent to 24 percent last season, but he attempted the same amount of threes in both seasons and only made six more as a freshman (14-for-33 as a freshman, 8-for-33 as a sophomore).
“I feel like yeah I have (improved). I have been working on it a lot lately and with the coaches at night just trying to get better,” Poythress said to Vaught of his shooting. “A lot of us are in there a lot all the time whenever we can. We are all a bunch of gym rats really.”
After two seasons, it’ll have to be a wait-and-see approach with Poythress after his regression last season. Maybe a more confident and experienced Poythress can play more on the wing and let Kentucky have a good front court rotation with the incoming freshmen.
Either way, the Wildcats have to figure out someone to close out games on the wing and Poythress gives them the most experience, athleticism and rebounding ability if he can improve his shooting and aggressiveness. Poythress will be a player to watch for Kentucky during the team’s exhibition trip to the Bahamas beginning tomorrow.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.