Poole Play

April 20, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Stacey Poole Jr. has had time to think, and no, he said he still has no regrets about transferring to Georgia Tech. Whether he rues having left Kentucky … eh, let’s just say that whatever feelings he has about that will wear off.

Poole came to The Flats between semesters, and that’s why he won’t be eligible to play basketball until the second semester next school year. That’s also how he missed being part of a national championship team a couple weeks ago.

NCAA rules stipulate that he sit out an entire year after transferring from one Division I school to another, and of late the 6-foot-4 shooting guard has had time to ponder his former team’s rampage through the recent NCAA tournament to a national title.

He’s saying the right things about all his feelings about all that. Poole, in fact, has been in touch with some former teammates since they beat Kansas in the title game a couple weeks ago. He’ll probably visit with some of them this summer.

“I was happy for those guys. Those are my ex-teammates, and really good friends up there,” he said. “I was happy to see them pull it off. Everybody says, ‘You could have had a national championship,’ but I felt like I did what was best for me. I’m very pleased with my decision, and I’m very happy for those guys.

Kentucky “Coach [John] Calipari is a good dude. We don’t have any negative energy toward each other. I talked to him like a man.”

Poole will have two full seasons of eligibility at Tech in addition to the second half of next season. He played in 16 games for Kentucky as a freshman, in 2010-11.

Widely recruited out of Providence High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where Rivals.com rated him the No. 4 small forward and No. 33 overall player in the ’11 class after he averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists as a senior. He had options when he decided to leave Kentucky.

Generally speaking, Poole narrowed the field to Wake Forest, Purdue, Miami and Tech although the Jackets had not recruited him seriously coming out of high school. Tech head coach Brian Gregory did, though, when he was still at Dayton.

Next winter, the athletic swing man will compete with Brandon Reed and perhaps a couple of incoming freshmen for playing time.

“I had been thinking about it. I just felt like the situation [at Kentucky] wasn’t the best for me,” Poole said. “Everybody here is all about academics. I come in with a winning attitude, and competitive spirit. I want to bring something to the program . I just felt like I had a little more to offer than what I was doing.”

Poole hasn’t declared a major yet. He said he’s leaning toward communications or business management.

More than that, he’s looking forward to next spring, and playing basketball. He’s already been able to practice with the Jackets, but that’s different.

“I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said. “It’s high-level energy, put the ball in the basket, finish around the rim, play defense and just bring that winning spirits. I’m very pleased with my decision, and I’m very happy for those guys [at Kentucky].”

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