Cauley-Stein, Poythress have work to do
by Kyle Tucker, USA TODAY Sports
LEXINGTON, KY. — Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress, speaking to the media Monday for the first time since their decision to put off the NBA and stay at the University of Kentucky for their sophomore seasons, sounded like teenaged stars who’d been humbled by a disappointing year. They talked like young men motivated to make next season different.
“We can’t be kids forever. It’s just time to grow up,” Poythress said. “I didn’t want to leave with a bad taste in my mouth.”
He and Cauley-Stein, along with junior Kyle Wiltjer, will be the “veteran” anchors on a loaded — but once again young — 2013-14 roster, which is set to add at least eight freshmen, six of whom are McDonald’s All-Americans. And coach John Calipari might still add the No. 1 overall recruit, Andrew Wiggins, to a recruiting class most already consider the greatest in history.
Even after missing the NCAA Tournament and losing to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT this year, the Wildcats will likely start next season atop the polls. Cauley-Stein will be there to remind the new guys that just a few months ago UK was opening at No. 3 in the rankings and had its own show on ESPN before the mirage melted away.
“Potential is exactly that,” Cauley-Stein said. “We had the potential this year and didn’t capitalize on it. So it could easily be we have the best recruiting class coming in and not do anything with it. It’s that simple. If you don’t come together and do things right, then you’re just a bunch of talented kids that didn’t get anything accomplished.”
That the Cats followed a 2012 national title with such an underachieving season made it easier for Cauley-Stein and Poythress to come back despite the fact that both were borderline lottery picks and almost certain first-rounders in most NBA draft projections. Cauley-Stein said he felt like “something’s empty, and I want to fill it.” Also, more simply:
“You don’t get these years back,” he said, “so why grow up sooner than you have to, pay for stuff, taxes? I’m not trying to … [For more on Kentucky's Cauley-Stein, Poythress have unfinished business, click here.]