Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 5, 2013

AARON SNYDER: Poythress can’t just disappear

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

ASHLAND — Of Kentucky’s 10 true road games this season, freshman Alex Poythress cracked double figures in scoring just twice.

Since his barrage of four straight 20-point performances in November, Poythress hit 20 only two times in the next 24 games.

In the Wildcats’ five SEC losses, Poythress is averaging a meager 7.1 points per game.

Sometimes I watch Poythress and I see a Terrence Jones with a smoother shooting stroke.

I see an athlete who could dismantle a backboard with an authoritative two-handed dunk if he slams through the rim just right.

Other times, simply locating No. 22 resembles the last page of a Where’s Waldo book.

The 6-foot-7 forward is strongly built and uber-talented. But maybe inside that man’s body is a boy’s mind that isn’t quite mature enough to handle being a dependable, integral part of this team.

And that’s OK at most places. After all, he’s a 19-year-old freshman.

At UK, though, basketball players are forced to grow up quickly.

If Poythress can’t become a consistent producer over the next week and a half, Kentucky may find itself “NIT-ing” instead of dancing.

With only one win against the RPI Top 50, Kentucky desperately needs a strong finish.

Poythress needs to thrive in order for the Wildcats to do so. Guards Ryan Harrow and Archie Goodwin have to help Poythress, too, by finding him early and more often in games.

Unless Poythress puts on those ridiculous red-and-white stripes and settles for blending in.

Thacker Torn ACL

Rowan County junior basketball/baseball player Tyler Thacker is facing about a nine-month recovery.

An injury suffered during last Friday’s 16th Region Tournament championship game has been determined as a torn ACL, according to coach/father Shawn Thacker.

Bruner Big Booter

Boyd County placekicker Zac Bruner is taking his booting duties seriously. He has attended several camps, including esteemed Prokicker.com events, and enjoyed a recent performance that put him on a watch list.

Just a sophomore, his personal-best in practice so far is 57 yards.

At Southern Specialist Camp, conducted by Team Jackson Kicking in Carrollton, Ga., Bruner impressed enough to earn this description to attach with his YouTube video: “Zac Bruner is a Class of 2015 kicker out of Kentucky that has D1A potential ... Definitely keep track of Zac’s progress in the future.”

Bruner’s personal kicking coach is Aaron Pettrey, who was a standout player at Raceland before kicking for Ohio State and eventually the Bengals for a coupole of games. Pettrey commented on his YouTube video.

“I have been working with Zac for a year now and I have to also agree that he has one of the strongest legs I've seen for his age,” Pettrey wrote. “Every time we get together his technique is getting better and better. His future is extremely bright.”

Hardware Handed Out

The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches announced its award recipients for the 2012-13 season on Monday.

Russell coach Merle Kidwell and Boyd County’s Randy Anderson were named the 16th Region Co-Coaches of the Year.

Russell senior Kyle Skaggs earned Player of the Year honors.

All-Star Tryouts

Two area basketball standouts have been invited to try out for the annual Kentucky/Indiana All-Star Classic.

Lawrence County’s Taylor Porter will try to make the girls’ squad and Russell’s Kyle Skaggs the boys’ squad.

A total of 35 boys and 38 girls were selected for the tryout, which will take place on March 23 and 24 at Georgetown College.

Porter has already signed to play at Murray State next season.

Skaggs is still undecided about his future plans.

Lewis Walking On

Ironton football speedster Patrick Lewis is set to walk on at Marshall University, according to HerdNation.com.

Lewis rushed for several 200-plus yard games as a senior and was a dynamic playmaker in the kick/punt return game as well for the Fighting Tigers in 2012.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.