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November 29, 2011CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - The Wendy's on Tiny Town Road in Clarksville has a Biggie-sized guy working the grill in the back - 6 feet 8 and 225 pounds.
And even though he stands to make a lot of money as a professional basketball player someday, five-star Kentucky signee Alex Poythress is content with $7.25 an hour for now and a being a regular kid with a part-time job.
"I don't know; you got to start somewhere," Poythress said with a chuckle this month.
As of last week, Poythress was working about 15 hours a week at Wendy's - usually on Sundays and after some early-afternoon basketball practices on school days. He started the job about three weeks before he signed with UK on Nov. 10.
"One of my friends on the basketball team applied, so I was just being funny, so I applied, too," he said. " We both got hired, so I figured, I might as well do it.
" I just know how to make the sandwiches. That's all I do."
Poythress is a soft-spoken guy in interviews, and his mother, Regina Poythress, praises him for his work ethic, balanced life and humility. At his job, about 2 miles from his school, one of his managers wasn't even aware - until he was told by a reporter - that Poythress is among the nation's premier high school athletes and that media from all over the region were in town to cover his college signing ceremony.
"I knew he played basketball, but I didn't know he was that good," Eric Dube said. " He doesn't really talk about it. He just comes in and does his job."
Dube said about all he knew about Poythress was that he's really tall - "I always have to look up to look at him," he said - and that he does good work.
"He's a quick learner, very quick learner," Dube said. " He catches on pretty quick with anything he does, so he'll go far."
Poythress is a hard worker in the classroom, too, his coach, Al Cooper, said, noting that Poythress has a 3.95 grade-point average and ranks 12th in the senior class academically.
"It's hard to balance going to school and playing basketball, and when he's playing basketball, it's very competitive basketball," Poythress' mother, Regina, said. "So I thought that was pretty amazing (that he'd take a job)."
UK fans have already taken a liking to Poythress, his mom said.
He scored 36 points in Northeast's season-opening win over Christ Presbyterian on Nov. 19, and she said she was surprised to see several fans in UK clothes in the stands cheering him on.
No word on if those fans stopped in Clarksville for a postgame meal, but Cooper, the Northeast High coach, joked that he expected Wendy's to become a good spot for him to grab a bite.
"I'm going to wait until (Poythress) gets all set up over there so that I can get about two or three burgers free instead of one," Cooper said with a laugh.