Monday, January 23, 2012

Will Kentucky Transfer Stacey Poole Help Get Georgia Tech Back On Track?

Brian Gregory is still trying to pick up pieces from the shambles left by Paul Hewitt in his first season as Georgia Tech coach. The Yellow Jackets will have at least four new faces next season to help bring the program back to contention in the ACC. One of those is Stacey Poole who will be eligible for conference play next season.

I spoke with Glenn Logan of A Sea of Blue to find out more about Poole.

Q: Why do you think Poole transferred from Kentucky?
A: It's pretty clear that he transferred because his father, Stacey Poole Sr., wanted him to transfer. Poole Sr. thought that his son was not getting enough playing time at Kentucky, and came to the conclusion that his son was being recruited over, which he was -- everybody gets recruited over at Kentucky -- this is not a school for the timid, or for players who cannot compete at the highest level for playing time.

Poole Jr. was not willing to put in the work required to get more time last year, but he did make a concerted effort to do so over the summer and had noticeably improved in the few times we saw him on the floor, which is to say, during Midnight Madness and in the Blue/White scrimmage. Poole Jr. did not want to leave Kentucky, but his father insisted and essentially would not take no for an answer. He went so far as to come up to Kentucky to make absolutely sure his son understood he was not staying, and to make sure he informed Calipari of his intention to transfer.

Make no mistake, this was not Poole Jr.'s choice, or even in accordance with his wishes -- he wanted to stay, and made that known. His father demanded that he transfer, and would not accept any other outcome. Blood is always thicker than basketball.

Q: What are the biggest strengths Poole will bring to a depleted Georgia Tech roster?
A: Poole is an outstanding athlete and has the potential to be a very dangerous player. He has good size for a 2-guard, can jump and run very well, and has good shooting form but a touch that needs developing. Poole is a capable scorer off the bounce, and once he gets his ballhandling in order, should be able to get his own shot against most defenders.

Poole Jr. is strong and has really worked on his body. If he continues that work ethic, he is going to be a good player. He should be a capable defender, although the fact he didn't play more last year tells you all you need to know about his commitment to defense. Calipari will always play people who can defend their spot, and Poole Jr. needs to work on that.

Q: What areas of his game kept Poole from seeing more minutes at Kentucky?
A: With Calipari, playing times comes down to only one thing -- Commitment to defense.

Poole Jr. was simply not willing to put in the time it takes to play at Kentucky. To play here, you have to be able to do one thing above all else -- defend your position one-on-one. Poole Jr. couldn't, and he wasn't committed to getting to the point where he could until after his first year was over.

Q: Poole's younger brother Solomon is a top prospect for next season. Was Kentucky recruiting him?
A: I don't think so. Kentucky is focusing on the Harrison twins. I have a feeling his father will make sure he goes elsewhere, in any case. I don't think his father dislikes Kentucky, but I don't think he and coach Cal see eye to eye when it comes to college basketball.

Q: Does having his brother on the roster help or hurt Georgia Tech chances in your opinion?
A: Probably helps, although you never can tell. It didn't help North Carolina recruit Cody Zeller, but I have seen cases where it does help.
Considering Gregory's appetite for tough, man-to-man defense Glenn's answers to why Poole did not play more are interesting.

On the other hand, it is very evident the Yellow Jackets need help on the offensive end and it sounds like Poole brings this potential. 

I would rather have a skilled player with athleticism who could score and try to teach him defense than a player with no offensive skill. Attitude and desire are the two most important qualities in playing defense.

As long as Poole keeps the right attitude he should definitely be a plus for a program that will need a few years to return to contention for NCAA Tournament runs.

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