Kentucky senior forward Alex Poythress has made the final list for the 2016 Arthur Ashe Jr. Athlete of the Year award. Poythress is one of just two basketball players and one of four total student-athletes named as male finalists.
Poythress joined Corey Brown (men’s soccer at Queens University of Charlotte), Marcus Paige (men’s basketball at North Carolina) and Paul Pitts III (football at San Diego State) on the final list. The male and female athlete of the year will be announced April 7.
This year marks the third season Poythress has been named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar.
The finalists were chosen from 30 semifinalists and more than 1,000 outstanding minority student-athletes nominated by their respective college or university.
In 1992, “Black Issues In Higher Education” magazine, now “Diverse,” established the Sports Scholars Awards to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.
A scholar and athlete, Ashe sought to expand opportunities for young people. Each year Diverse invites every postsecondary institution in the country to participate in this awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must exhibit academic excellence as well as community activism.
To be included, students need to compete in an intercollegiate sport, maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2, and be active on their campuses or in their communities. The NCAA Office of Inclusion has partnered with Diverse to support this standout class of scholar-athletes. Approximately 1,000 male and female students from across the country were nominated.
Past recipients of the award include: Baylor University’s (2011) Robert Griffin III, Heisman Trophy winner and former Washington Redskins quarterback; the University of Tennessee’s (2003) Kara Lawson, an ESPN analyst who played for the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs; San Diego State University’s (1993) Marshall Faulk, NFL Hall of Famer; and the University of Kansas’ (1996) Jacque Vaughn, former head coach of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
Poythress concluded his UK career over the weekend with 966 career points, 597 rebounds and 77 blocks. He’s just the 12th player in Kentucky’s storied history to post 900 points, 500 rebounds and 70 blocks in a career.
In his final season at Kentucky, Poythress averaged 10.2 points and a team-high-tying 6.0 rebounds per game. He recorded four double-doubles, tied for second on the team.
Earlier this month Poythress was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America Second Team, the first Wildcat to make CoSIDA’s Academic All-American teams since Mark Pope in 1995.
The Clarksville, Tenn., native 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 finished his first semester of grad school with a 4.0 GPA.
Poythress has appeared on the SEC Academic Honor Roll during every year of college. He has been named to the Athletic Director’s honor roll three times, which honors the student-athlete with the highest GPA of his team.
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 a various times and has even made guest appearances at camps in his hometown.
Along with his teammates, he was involved in a Hurricane Sandy telethon, a clothing drive for the needy, and various meet-and-greets during the holidays. Furthermore, Poythress is a mainstay at UK basketball camps throughout the summer, serving as a camp counselor for kids of all ages.