Stacey Poole on next season

Stacey Poole remembers a year ago when Birmingham guard Eric Bledsoe came to play in the Kentucky Derby Festival without the same big national reputation that many other players had.

Stacey Poole remembers a year ago when Birmingham guard Eric Bledsoe came to play in the Kentucky Derby Festival without the same big national reputation that many other players had.

"Eric was not a McDonald's All-American or a Jordan (Brand Classic participant). He was similar to me. He played in the Derby Festival and was a good player," said Poole. "Some people don't get the same props as others, but that doesn't mean you can't play. You just go out and prove what you can do and show people you are capable of playing with the best like Eric did. I just want to produce and make things happen like he did."

Bledsoe came to Kentucky and played so well that he's now putting his name into the NBA Draft and is being projected as a first-round pick. Poole is not ready to proclaim he'll be a draft pick at this time next year, but he's confident he can help the Wildcats after signing with UK last November.

"You have to see me play a few times to appreciate all I can do," Poole, who had 10 points on 5-for-15 shooting and five rebounds Saturday night, said. "There is so much more to my game than you might see by just watching me once. I was sort of a late bloomer, kind of like Eric. I started blowing up last spring and summer. I just enjoy playing and think I have a pretty good game."

It was good enough to help his high school team finish 31-1 and he says he not only got in better physical shape, but he also developed his skills more during the season.

"Actually, I think I did a terrific job and became a much better player," Poole, who was also a finalist in the 3-point shooting contest, said.

He also spent a lot of time watching his future team win 35 games before losing to West Virginia in the Elite Eight.

"I did enjoy watching every bit of it. Those guys going pro all worked hard and were a treat to see play," Poole said. "They won, and that's what I really loved. If they had been losing, I would not have liked that. But I loved the way they played and won."

He's not surprised UK likely will have five players — Bledsoe, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton and Patrick Patterson — all turn pro. Those are five players who could have been Poole's teammates if they returned to Kentucky.

"I am not surprised they are going because of how they played and how far they got," Poole said. "You can't blame any of them. They got it done, so it's no surprise they would leave."

However, Poole says he has no worries about Kentucky's talent for next season.

"I feel pretty good about it. We will get recruits in," Poole said. "In a couple of weeks you will be hearing about five-star guys coming in. I do not do much recruiting. I am not that kind of guy. If you want to come, you come. If not, you don't .

"Cal having the kind of players he has had and producing guys that go to the NBA like he does, that is the best recruiting possible right there and what made me want to come to Kentucky."

So what other players might be coming to Kentucky other than Poole and Enes Kanter, who verbally committed to UK two weeks ago?

"I have ideas about who will come. I know we will get recruits," Poole said. "I do have some inside information. I know the coaches are out recruiting. I just don't want to say who I think is coming until it is official."

Poole was glad he got to make the trip from Florida to Louisville to play in the Derby Classic.

"I was glad to come and play in front of my fans," Poole, who will be in Lexington in June to start summer school, said. "I wanted to give them a little show and taste of what they would be getting next year. "I just want to spend time improving my game and getting better. Once I get on campus, I want to work out every day and get my skills better, become a young man living on his own and just become a better person."

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