OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Kentucky senior men’s basketball player Alex Poythress (pictured with coach John Calipari) has been named one of 30 candidates for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Poythress is the first Wildcat to earn recognition for the award since Darius Miller in 2012. He’s also the only player from the Southeastern Conference among the 30 candidates.
The Clarksville, Tenn., native is averaging 9.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the 13-4 Wildcats. He recently became just the 43rd player in program history to amass more than 800 career points and 500 career rebounds.
Since his arrival on campus, Poythress has been a steady presence within the community. He’s contributed to various activities such as the God’s Pantry Food Drive and Samaritan’s Feet. He is often a volunteer for stops at local children’s hospitals as well as appearances at local elementary schools. Poythress has played kickball with elementary students, read to them at various times and has even made guest appearances at camps in his hometown.
Along with his teammates, he has been involved in a Hurricane Sandy telethon, a clothing drive for the needy, various meet-and-greets during the holidays, as well as a presence at the annual pizza delivery during Big Blue Madness campouts. Furthermore, Poythress is a mainstay within the UK Basketball camps throughout the summer serving as a camp counselor for kids of all ages as well as for the John Calipari Fantasy Camp.
Poythress graduated in just three years with a degree in Business Marketing. He earned a 3.517 undergraduate grade-point average and is now pursuing a master’s of science in kinesiology and health promotion with an emphasis on sport leadership.
He has appeared on the SEC Academic Honor Roll during every year of college. He is also a two-time Arthur Ashe, Jr., Sports Scholar, and has been named to the Athletic Director’s honor roll three times, which honors the student-athlete with the highest GPA of his team. Poythress desires to play professional basketball immediately following his collegiate career, but has aspirations to work in business for a company that deals with sports in some way following his playing days.
Poythress came to Kentucky as a McDonald’s All-American and was a Top 15 recruit in the country. In the summer prior to his junior season during UK’s foreign trip to the Bahamas, it looked as if Poythress was on the verge of a breakout season for Kentucky’s eventual historic 2014-15 team. However, just eight games into the season, Poythress tore the ACL in his left knee in a practice. He missed the final 29 games of that season as UK rolled to a 38-0 record to begin the year and a second straight Final Four appearance. Poythress was a mainstay on the bench, cheering his teammates to every victory. He forcefully remained a part of the team including attending all practices, all the while vigorously rehabbing on his own. In the same calendar year, he took extra classes to be able to graduate in just three years. He rehabbed his way to be back on the court for the team’s first practice in October – just nine months following surgery. He has been a captain and team leader since his sophomore season.
Poythress has appeared in nearly 100 career games and made 49 starts. Poythress’ career averages included 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He is 188 points shy of joining UK’s 1,000-point club. UK is 101-29 (.777) overall during Poythress’ career, which includes a pair of Final Four trips.
A 2013 All-SEC Freshman team selection, Poythress has saved some of his best basketball for his final season. He poured in a career-high 25 points in a road victory at Alabama and has a team-leading three double-doubles on the year. On Dec. 9, 2015 he had the first 20-10 game of his career with 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. The impressive feat came nearly one year to the day of his ACL injury as he tore the ligament on Dec. 11, 2014.
To earn eligibility for the Senior CLASS Award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one male candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught