Eric Lindsey at CoachCal.com interviewed Stacey Poole recently about his sitting on the bench during his first season at UK and how he plans on working to see the court more in his sophomore campaign.
In the exclusive interview, Poole talked about how disappointed he was to sit on the bench last season while his classmates flourished. His pain was only enhanced by the fact that he had to keep a happy face on for the cameras:
“I love the game, so I’m going to enjoy it anyway,” Poole said. “It was good seeing my teammates out there having success. People never saw me mad, angry, upset or pouting. There was none of that. I always had a smile on my face when I was out on the court with my team. It was a great experience for me, going to the Final Four in my freshman year. The experience I had was incredible and I enjoyed it.”
Behind closed doors, however, Poole was not satisfied. One of the puzzle pieces to last year’s top-ranked recruiting class, Poole was the only ranked signee to sit on the sidelines. While teammates Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb sparkled as freshmen, enjoying the spoils that come with being Kentucky superstars, Poole, the No. 33 overall player in Rivals’ 2010 class, struggled to see the floor.
Poole credited his father with helping him keep his head up. Poole knows that if he works hard, then he’ll earn his playing time. Like Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins before him, Poole can work his way into consistent playing time and a spot in the rotation. Coach Cal said that if he’s healthy, expect Poole to have an impact season.
It’s a strange phenomenon in the Calipari years to have a highly ranked freshman come in and not contribute immediately. If Poole works hard and gets some time this season, he could become a strong contributor and experienced leader in his junior and senior seasons. It says a lot for Stacey that he decided to stay at Kentucky when the opportunity of a transfer probably seemed easier and more enticing. For UK to have success, we’ll need players like Poole who are committed to what Calipari is preaching and can stick around for three or four years:
Poole will continue to play the role of supportive teammate and tutor some of the newcomers, but he’s also trying to compete with them for playing time in order to help them on the court. Remember, this is a player who would have been the star in just about any other recruiting class.
“Coach told me not to worry about who is coming in,” Poole said. “He told me to handle my business, handle what I need to take care of and produce.”