As 2013 comes to a close, now is a good time to review how our two returning sophomores are performing. Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein turned down a likely spot in the NBA draft to pursue a national championship this year. With a new influx of talent, both have seen their roles change significantly through the first part of their second seasons. Below is a summary of their statistics before SEC play last year and this year:
2012: 20 MPG 7.8 PPG 5.9 RPG 2.1 BPG 61.6% from the field
2013: 28 MPG 8.8 PPG 8.2 RPG 4.1 BPG 63.2% from the field
After the departure of Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein has assumed the role of UK’s leading shot-blocker. And he’s done pretty well. His 4.1 blocks per game is nearly double what he averaged at this point last year, even though his minutes have only increased by 40%. It’s not just his shot-blocking that has improved: Cauley-Stein has increased his numbers across the board and is currently shooting an impressive 63.2% from the field. Despite the added talent of this year’s squad, Willie has improved his production greatly and will continue to play a leading role going forward.
2012: 27 MPG 14.0 PPG 6.2 RPG .5 APG 64.2 % from the field
2013: 18 MPG 4.8 PPG 5.9 RPG .6 APG 45.5% from the field
At first glance, it seems Poythress has regressed from this point last year. However, the numbers might be a bit misleading, as Poythress has assumed a different role on this year’s team. At this point last year, Alex was attempting to fill the role of the team’s go-to scorer. Remember, that at one point early last season Alex scored at least 20 points in four straight games. This year’s team simply doesn’t need Alex to be a scorer, and his stats reflect it. Despite seing a 33% decrease in minutes, Alex’s rebounds and assists are nearly the same. While his decrease in field goal percentage is pretty disappointing, Poythress is impacting the game in other ways. Hopefully, his shooting will improve throughout the rest of the season.