Poythress averaged 12.7 points per game as a sophomore last season. He scored 20 points each in regular-season games against Maplewood and Springfield, then matched his season high with 20 vs. Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett in Round 1 of the state playoffs.
He performed so well in Little Rock at April's "Real Deal in the Rock" tournament that espn.com noted: "Poythress was impressive throughout the weekend, but really turned it on during the final 3 games of the tournament (Real Deal in the Rock). The impressively built combo-forward is a thoroughbred that has the look of a high major player and carries himself with a mature demeanor."
Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels was impressed after watching Poythress' Day 1 performance in the recent NBA Camp at Charlottesville, Va., noting:
"This wasn't the Clarksville (Tenn.) Northeast prospect's best outing, but we still liked the makeup of the 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward. Poythress is a pretty good athlete that can run the floor and has a nice set of hands. Offensively he tried to face up the opposition when he got the chance, and although his shots weren't falling it's clear he's a talented prospect. Still a bit raw offensively, he'll need to tighten up his post game to take the next step."
The sudden emergence as a national prospect surprised Poythress, who says his career took off "right after my high school year finished. Coaches started calling and stuff."
Now his reputation is beginning to explode. He heard from 14 colleges on June 15 - the first day schools could call 2012 prospects - including rings from UT, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas, Memphis, Clemson, Boston College and Miami.
Noting that he's through camping for the summer, Poythress will focus on AAU ball until school starts. He said the NBA and UT camps "went well," adding: "I felt like I kind of did well but could've done better."
Although he's listed as a power-forward prospect by Scout, Poythress says "I can play both small and power forward. I probably play the 3 better because I can rebound better when I get a running start."
He reportedly made six 3-pointers last season. When asked about his perimeter stroke, he replied: "It's good. I can shoot 3s."
He has no favorite at present but conceded that "I like Tennessee. It's a good school and all."
Poythress called Pearl "a nice guy" and noted that Tennessee's run to the NCAA Elite Eight last March "was nice to watch on TV."
The fact the Big Orange program is on the rise helps the Vols' chances of landing Poythress. Asked if a program's success will be a key factor in his decision, he replied: "Yeah, it will be."