NCB On The Trail: Alex Poythress

Recruit and return: Kentucky 

April, 7, 2014
In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Kentucky and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Andrew Harrison
G: Aaron Harrison
F: Alex Poythress
F: Trey Lyles
C: Willie Cauley-Stein/Dakari Johnson

Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

1. Kentucky
Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress make up the most powerful frontcourt in the game. They can score, block shots and rebound with anyone.

2. Arizona
Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon.
This threesome is strong, long and explosive, and they use those gifts on both ends of the floor.

3. Syracuse
C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Baye Keita.
This bunch has both length and girth while protecting the basket and finishing inside.

4. Florida
Patric Young, transfer Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and Will Yeguete.
If Freshman Chris Walker becomes eligible in December this group could do serious damage together. They are extremely productive and could be dominant on the inside if Walker is playing.

Player of the Year
Marcus Smart. Nothing seems to faze this All-American. When you easily could have walked away from the college game and you come back, that means you are extremely confident in your ability. He has put up terrific numbers across the board, dominated the action at times and makes his team win -- that's what a POY does.

Kentucky should be just fine 

September, 12, 2013
Six months ago, John Calipari seemed virtually invincible on the recruiting trail. He was riding a wave of momentum fueled by his 2012 national championship, incredible recent success in the NBA draft, and being on the verge of delivering one of the top recruiting classes in the history of college basketball.

But then, unexpectedly, a few breaks went against Kentucky. Top-ranked Andrew Wiggins capped the 2013 class by picking Kansas, and then Calipari lost out to his former mentor, Larry Brown, as his top point guard target of 2014, Emmanuel Mudiay (Dallas/Prime Prep Academy), picked SMU last month.

So have Calipari and Kentucky lost a step?

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Kentucky head coach John Calipari officially announced the signing of the nation's No. 1 recruit on Thursday. 6-foot-10 Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./The Tilton School) signed his letter of intent with the Wildcats, giving Calipari his fourth straight top-ranked recruiting class.

"I've been blessed three times in my career to have a player that can change the game without really scoring with Marcus Camby, Anthony Davis and now Nerlens Noel," Calipari said. "I will tell you that Nerlens, just like Anthony, is not a finished product. He's got a lot of work to do and we have a lot of work to do to get him to where I think he's capable of being , but he is a special player who I am ecstatic to have an opportunity to work with."

Joining Noel in Lexington next season will be ESPNU 100 recruits Alex Poythress (Clarksville, Tenn./Northeast H.S.), Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills H.S.) and Willie Cauley (Spearville, Kans./Olathe Northwest H.S.).

"As we recruit, just like last year, it's like piecing together a young group that will play off one another," Calipari said. "The four that we've now signed will all play off one another. They're all great kids who have a desire to win, have terrific talent and who all complement each other."

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ESPNU's No. 1 ranked prospect Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) tops a list of six players, all ranked among the Top 25 on, for the Naismith High School Player of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Thursday.

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The University of Kentucky announced the official signing of its second ranked class on Thursday.

Head coach John Calipari will welcome three ESPNU 100 prospects to Lexington next season.

Shooting guard Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills H.S.) is the highest ranked recruit for Calipari. "Archie is a combo guard who can really score the ball," Calipari said. "I love his athleticism and length. He plays kind of like Tyreke Evans, but can shoot it more consistent at this stage in his career than Tyreke could."

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ESPNU 100 small forward Alex Poythress (Clarksville, Tenn./Northeast H.S.) ended his recruitment on Thursday, announcing at his school that he will join the Kentucky Wildcats next year.

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