Alex Poythress will not enter NBA Draft, will return to Kentucky

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Freshman forward Alex Poythress will not enter the NBA draft and will instead return to Kentucky for his sophomore season, the school announced in a release Tuesday evening.

Poythress, a 6-7, 239-pound native of Tennessee, averaged 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game this season for a Kentucky team that missed the NCAA tournament and lost in the first round of the NIT.

“This year didn’t end like we wanted it to,” Poythress said in a statement. “I want to come back and do what we said we wanted to do and that’s win a national title. I want to develop more as a player and the competition coming in next year should help me do that.”

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But consider this: One of the biggest reasons that Kentucky was able to win a national championship in 2011-12, aside from the fact it had a National Player of the Year in then-freshman Anthony Davis, was because Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones had returned for their sophomore seasons. Their year of experience, plus senior Darius Miller, were important to the Wildcats’ run.

We could see a similar situation play out next season in 2013-14.

It is already decided that guard Archie Goodwin will leave for the NBA and it is likely that center Nerlens Noel will too, but Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein will return to Lexington. Those two in combination with the stellar recruiting class that is set to come to town at the start of the year could make Kentucky forget about this past season rather quickly.

The nation’s top player, Andrew Wiggins, is still deciding where he will play his college basketball. He will choose either Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, or Florida State. If Wiggins commits, it would give Kentucky six of the Top 15 players in the country, according to Rivals.com.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_