By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Leading the way with a game-high 14 points, former Kentucky Wildcat star Evelyn Akhator helped lead Nigeria to a first-place victory over Senegal in the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket title this past Sunday. It was Nigeria’s second consecutive AfroBasket title.
You might remember Akhator as the highest-drafted WNBA player to ever come out of Lexington after she was drafted third overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings. She currently plays overseas in Spain as a member of CB Avenida.
Playing center and standing at 6-foot-3, Akhator averaged 11 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 steals in five games during the tournament while shooting over 52 percent from the field. She was arguably the most efficient player on her team, as well.
While her WNBA career hasn’t quite panned out the way she might have anticipated, she dominated the competition in international play. She made a return to the WNBA earlier in 2019, however, she was not brought on board full-time after training camp ended.
An interesting side note that I noticed while watching the post-game press conference was the discovery of the coach of the Nigerian team. Otis Hughley Jr., a former NBA assistant, has been the Nigerian national team’s head coach since 2018. He was also the head coach on Loyalty Is Love, DeMarcus Cousins’ squad that won the Lexington Regional at The Basketball Tournament over the summer. Small world?
Congratulations are in order for Akhator, who we all hope to see back in the states and the WNBA sometime soon.
By Nick Roush on ©August 12th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
A former University of Kentucky star almost upset Team USA in the Pan-Am Games.
Representing Puerto Rico, Jennifer O’Neill scored a game-high 19 points and added three rebounds and three assists in a three-point semifinal loss to the Americans. Even though O’Neill’s squad lost, they still made it to the podium after defeating Columbia in the third-place game.
O’Neill’s best game in Peru was a 23-point performance against Brazil, the team that ultimately defeated the United States in the Gold Medal Game.
Before she began competing internationally, O’Neill starred for Matthew Mitchell’s Cats, finishing her career 14th on the program’s all-time scoring list. The 5-6 guard from the Bronx also ranks third in three-pointers made. You probably remember her best for her school-record 43 points in a four-overtime victory over Baylor in the ice game at Jerry World in 2013.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 28th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
If Rhyne Howard isn’t winning some sort of high-profile award at least once a month, did that month really happen?
After Howard led Team USA to a gold medal at the U19 FIBA Women’s World Cup on Sunday morning in Thailand, we can officially say that July of 2019 did, in fact, happen.
The US needed overtime to take down Australia in the final game but ultimately came out victorious with a 74-70 win and a shiny gold medal to complement the achievement. The win marks USA’s eighth gold medal in the U19 Women’s World Cup.
— FIBA (@FIBA) July 28, 2019
Howard added 10 points for the US after leading the team in scoring in the semifinal matchup against Belgium, where she poured in 14 points. Against Australia, she struggled from the field, shooting a mere 3-13 overall and 2-7 from deep. However, she played a team-high 38 minutes while pulling in seven boards and dishing out three dimes in addition to two steals and a block.
Team USA was down by three with 14 seconds left before an elbow from an Australian player connected with Howard’s face, leading to an unsportsmanlike foul and free throws for the US. Caitlin Clark would make one out of two free throws for the US followed by a Hailey Van Lith made-layup with 12.5 seconds left. They would outscore Australia 8-4 in the extra period.
In the semifinal game against Belgium on Saturday, Team USA was trailing by one with a little under three minutes left before Howard drilled a triple coming off a screen to put her team up two. Belgium would not score again and lost the game by eight.
— FIBA (@FIBA) July 27, 2019
Both Howard and US teammate Paige Bueckers was named to the All-U19 World Cup Team. Bueckers was also named Tournament MVP.
Howard will now return to the states with another piece of hardware to add to her collection. The rising sophomore has big expectations for the upcoming season as a Wildcat and after thriving on the international stage, I’d say she’s eager to attack the challenge. Get ready to familiarize Rhyne Howard as a household name.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 26th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
The Rhyne Howard hype tour is only getting rowdier. Early Friday morning in Bangkok, Thailand, Howard led the U19 USA women’s squad to a convincing 81-46 victory against Canada.
The Kentucky guard finished with a game-high 14 points and had her best shooting performance of the tournament thus far, making six of her eight attempts. She also pulled in three rebounds and recorded two steals, as well.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) July 26, 2019
Howard continues to dominate this event. She leads the US in scoring at 13.6 points per game, the fifth-highest among all players, while shooting 13-28 from deep through five appearances.
After falling behind early in the first quarter, Howard helped spark a 22-1 US run that quickly ended any hope for Canada. Team USA led 26-9 after the first period and 50-16 at halftime.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) July 26, 2019
“Canada is a good team and we knew that they were going to be aggressive, so we wanted to throw the first punch and keep it going while we had the momentum,” Howard said according to USAB.
With the win, Team USA advances to the semifinals on Saturday where they will face Belgium with a chance to win a gold medal on Sunday. Both the semifinal games and the championship game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 24th, 2019 @ 2:15pm
Matthew Mitchell just can’t keep quiet. The Kentucky Women’s Basketball coach is back on the recruiting trail, which means he’s back to uploading videos of himself singing in the car to pass the time from stop to stop.
On Monday, he was in Georgia, which called for a little Ray Charles:
Still in Georgia, he sang Georgia Satellite’s “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” as a tribute to Georgia natives who have come through the program, such as current assistant Niya Butts:
View this post on Instagram
Day 2/Part 2 of the #BigBlueRoadTrip finds us thinking about some great Wildcats from Georgia! Very proud of @coachfranklin_a who is doing great things in her coaching career and gave so much to our program!Great to see her today! #georgiasatellites #weareuk #columbusga #villaricaga #stonemountainga #americusga #ukwbb
A post shared by Head Coach Matthew Mitchell (@ukcoachmitchell) on
Yesterday, he was in Ames, Iowa, the site of some big wins in the 2012 NCAA Women’s Tournament:
View this post on Instagram
Part 2/Day 3 of the #bigblueroadtrip ! What a gorgeous day in Ames, Iowa! Thinking about some great wins the Wildcats had in 2012 NCAA Tournament! @keylasnowden came up with BIG PLAYS! Proud of you Keyla! #bbn #weareuk #ukwbb #iknowalittle
A post shared by Head Coach Matthew Mitchell (@ukcoachmitchell) on
You know Mitchell’s dying to recruit someone from Fort Worth, Texas so he can bust out some Kelly Clarkson.
Today, the women’s basketball team announced the #DriveFor5K campaign to promote season ticket sales, which began today at UKathletics.com/tickets:
Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up…
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) July 24, 2019
In hopes of selling 5,000 season tickets, UK will hold several promotional events. Fans who renew or buy new season tickets by Aug. 9 will receive two complimentary tickets to the Kentucky football home opener vs. Toledo, free entry into the Go Big Blue 4 Miler presented by Kroger on Aug. 17 (one entry per season ticket) and will be entered into the season ticket surprise drawings which will include other prizes.
The United States defeated South Korea 89-67 in group play at the FIBA U19 World Cup on Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand.
Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard was one of the reasons for the dominant performance. She finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds, shooting 5-of-7 from the three-point line. Oh, and she did all of this in the first half.
— Niya Butts (@CoachButts) July 21, 2019
Howard is going to be a star in women’s college basketball next season. I am glad she is wearing Kentucky on her chest.
Howard and Team USA will finish group play against Hungary at 1:00 am ET on July 23.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 20th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
A dominant defensive third quarter has Team USA entering the second day of the FIBA U19 World Cup with a check in the win column. Kentucky sophomore guard Rhyne Howard posted 10 points in Team USA’s 79-56 win over Australia in the opening day of group stage play.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) July 20, 2019
The top overall seed Team USA was able to hold seventh-ranked Australia to a mere four points in the third quarter while pouring in 21 of their own in what would be the deciding frame of this game. At halftime, the United States lead was only at four.
Howard was tied with three of her teammates at 10 points while 17-year old Paige Bueckers led the squad with 11. Howard played 18 minutes and also recorded three rebounds plus an assist and a steal, however, she shot only 3-10 from the field.
In game two on Sunday, Howard will look to improve on a poor shooting day against 15-ranked South Korea, who dropped game one in a 24-point loss to Hungary.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 19th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
When you’re as talented as Rhyne Howard at the sport of basketball, you don’t know what an offseason is. Beginning on Saturday, Howard will lead the women’s Team USA U19 squad into the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
The look you have when you are eyeing your second ? in as many years.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) July 19, 2019
The event – which takes in place in Bangkok, Thailand – will kick off with pool play on Saturday. The top-ranked USA will take on seventh-ranked Australia in the opening game, followed by a matchup against South Korea on Sunday and finishing against Hungary on Tuesday.
The U19 team is made up mainly of incoming college freshmen and sophomores, with Howard listed as the second-oldest player on the team. The Kentucky guard has a history of success in international competition, bringing home the gold medal as a member of the U18 team last year while also earning MVP honors along the way.
Howard set several records and earned plenty of awards as a freshman at Kentucky last season and will head into her sophomore campaign as one of the most highly-anticipated players to watch across the entire country. This summer trip to Thailand is just building up the hype surrounding her.
If Team USA advances past the group stage, they will go into the Round of 16 on July 25 and hopefully all the way to the gold medal game, which will take place on July 28.
Good luck to Howard and the rest of the Team USA ladies. I hope Rhyne upgraded to a bigger trophy case this summer.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
We know Matthew Mitchell’s got pipes, and this summer, he’s using them on the recruiting trail.
On Sunday, we wrote about how the Kentucky Women’s Basketball coach is promoting the program as only he can — by uploading videos of himself singing in the car in between recruiting visits. On Saturday, he shared his rendition of “I’m So Excited” on the way to Indianapolis and on the way back, busted out some Lee Roy Parnell’s “On the Road.” What other tunes did he sing on the Big Blue Road Trip this week?
Monday, he serenaded a poster of Makayla Epps with Men at Work’s “Who Can It Be Now”:
Hey #bbn ! Day 3 of the #bigblueroadtrip is going great! I hope everyone’s had an awesome Monday! Ran into one of the all time greats! Well, sort of. #ukwbb #weareuk @ThatEppsKidd25 pic.twitter.com/C4dtAvWKBj
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 8, 2019
Tuesday, he dedicated Elvis Presley’s “Burnin’ Love” to Jaida Roper after she tweeted that somebody needed to hide his phone from him:
Hey #bbn ! #bigblueroadtrip Day 4! Responses have been positive! Dealt with a tiny bit of hate y’day from an unexpected source! @jaida_roper wants me SHUT DOWN! She said “someone hide his phone”! It will NEVER happen! Learn to ? it!#weareuk #ukwbb #memphis #thekingofrockandroll pic.twitter.com/YHUhQJ0LjV
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 9, 2019
On Hump Day, he sang about Chicago on his way out of Chicago:
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 11, 2019
It wouldn’t be a trip to Indiana without a tribute to John Cougar Mellencamp:
Hey #bbn ! Day 6 of the #bigblueroadtrip had us in the #circlecity Indianapolis, IN the home of the great @Goss_theBoss13 one of the greatest people to ever put on a jersey for the Wildcats! Spectacular day!! #lifegoeson #jackanddiane #weareuk #ukwbb pic.twitter.com/Wo5SQdwMeQ
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 11, 2019
Today, he wrapped it up with, what else, the UK fight song:
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 12, 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 09th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Former Kentucky women’s basketball star Taylor Murray is headed overseas.
This evening, the school announced that Murray has signed a professional contract with VASAS-Pasaret Noi in Hungary to continue her basketball career.
As a senior this past year, the 5-foot-6 point guard averaged 12.4 points per game while leading the team with 123 total assists and 103 steals last season. Murray, who was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Defensive Team by league coaches each of the last two years, was also a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award as a senior. The three-year starter is the only player in program history to end her career with at least 1,350 points, 280 steals, and 450 assists.
According to UK Athletics, Murray ended her career third in free-throw percentage (.833), fourth in steals (287), fifth in assists (450), eighth in assists per game (3.5) and 17th all-time in scoring (1359). Murray is only the fourth player in program history to lead UK in steals all four years of her career. Overall in 127 games played, she led UK in assists 61 times and in steals 75 times.
Some of Murray’s biggest performances of her Kentucky career include a 21-point, four-rebound, four-steal outing vs. Missouri last season and a near-triple double effort against North Carolina in the 2018 Paradise Jam, where the former Wildcat finished with 23 points, 10 assists, seven steals, and six rebounds.
Congratulations and best of luck to Taylor on the big career move.
By Sam Gormley on ©July 07th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
UK women’s basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell is a man of many talents. When most fans think of him, they immediately think of his dance moves during Big Blue Madness. Others may know of his talent behind the microphone and singing.
This week, Mitchell and his staff hit the road to begin a new recruiting process. Yesterday, he posted a video on his way to Indianapolis where he mentioned how excited he was to start the new recruiting process. Like any true performer, he used the opportunity to show off his pipes.
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 6, 2019
While on his way back to the Bluegrass today to continue his recruiting trail, Mitchell checked back in to continue in the singing pattern:
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 7, 2019
This shows off the fun loving personality of Mitchell and should help relate to the younger generation.
The UK women have a bright future ahead of them with some strong players coming in and Rhyne Howard returning for her sophomore season.
The question I have to ask is why we don’t get a John Calipari singing video on the way to recruit? We have had a rapping governor and a singing women’s coach, so the ball is in Cal or Mark Stoops’ court. How will they take it?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 27th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Former Kentucky women’s basketball star Makayla Epps has accepted a new coaching gig.
This evening, the former Wildcat announced that she will be joining the women’s basketball coaching staff at Woodford County High School as an assistant.
Oddly enough, Epps will be joining fellow Kentucky basketball alumni Erik Daniels – the school’s head coach – and Antwain Barbour for the Yellowjackets.
“For those who do not know, I have accepted a coaching position at Woodford Co. HS alongside former UK alumni Erik Daniels and Antwain Barbour,” she wrote on Twitter. “Blessed to be put in a position to move up the ranks in my coaching career. Woodford County, let’s get it.”
For Those Who Do Not Know :
I Have Accepted A Coaching Position At Woodford Co. HS Alongside Former UK Alumni Erik Daniels & Antwain Barbour ??????
Blessed To Be Put In A Position To Move Up The Ranks In My Coaching Career ?
WOODFORD. COUNTY …..
Letssssss Getttttt It ?
— Makayla Epps (@ThatEppsKidd25) June 27, 2019
In her time at Kentucky, Epps finished in the top 10 in program history for career points, assists, assists average, field-goals made, free-throws made, and scoring average. She was also just the second player in program history to earn All-SEC First Team honors three straight seasons.
In the 2017 WNBA Draft, Epps was selected No. 33 overall to the Chicago Sky.
Here are her impressive senior-year highlights at Kentucky:
Congratulations to Makayla and best of luck to her in taking the next step of her career!
One former Kentucky women’s basketball player is taking her talents to the state of Tennessee.
Lipscomb University announce it has added former Wildcat center Dorie Harrison to its roster. A McDonald’s All-American and Top 100 recruit, Harrison averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds as a freshman in 2017-18. Last season she sat out for personal health reasons.
Harrison took a not-so-subtle shot at her former head coach in the Lipscomb press release.
“I believe in the vision Coach Sumski has for the program, and I am excited to evolve and progress with it, but mostly I honestly believe she supports me as a person first before anything else, which is so rare to find,” Harrison said.
““I’m truly humbled and blessed to be transferring into a culture in which young women are faithfully empowered, encouraged, and cultivated to be great.”
A Nashville native, Harrison’s older sister, Isabelle, was an All-SEC performer at the University of Tennessee and is currently a member of the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©June 19th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
Former Kentucky women’s basketball star Maci Morris has already agreed to a professional career in Italy, but that isn’t the only thing she has lined up.
Now she’s about to drop her own line of athletic apparel – with a Maci Morris-themed logo to go with it.
View this post on Instagram
ATTENTION Maci Morris athletic apparel is here. The pre-sale is about to drop! She will have athletic apparel for Women, Men and youth. Website will be released soon. @maci4morris #WNBA #FIBA @kentuckywbb @wnba
A post shared by Victorious Career Management (@victoriouscareer) on
There is currently no listed release date but the post says a website is coming, so it probably won’t be too much longer before you can get your hands on the coincidentally blue-and-white colored clothes.
Since Morris is no longer suffocated by the NCAA’s fantastically brainless rules, she can finally make money off of her likeness. Almost time to put in those pre-orders, folks.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©June 19th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team has announced that they are adding a Junior Wildcat Day Camp from July 15 – July 18.
The camp will be restricted to young athletes in seventh and eighth grade and is “designed to teach foundation skills for upcoming basketball players”.
According to the press release put out by the University, mornings will consist of teaching basic basketball fundamentals while evenings will be followed with competitions and league play along with non-basketball activities. All participants will receive a Nike t-shirt.
Campers can sign up for half-day sessions at $125 and full-day sessions are listed at $225. If you would like more information on how to sign up, you can find everything you need here.
KSR’s special guest host tour keeps rolling tomorrow with UK head women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell in the big chair to carry the show for two hours. Mitchell is a veteran in the guest host seat so I have no doubt he will put on a terrific two hours of radio.
This year he seems even more amped up than ever though. He sent a text to Ryan Lemond earlier today to say, “I am VERY good for the show tomorrow! It may end up being the greatest appearance of my KSR career! I’m on (fire emoji)!!!”
So tune in at 10 a.m. to hear all Coach Mitchell has to say to BBN. It’s going to be a fun one.
Maci Morris is taking her talents to Europe. The former Kentucky women’s basketball star told WYMT that she’s signed a contract with USE Scotti Empoli in Italy.
“I mean it’s been a dream of mine since I was little, and just to be able to go and experience the world using basketball, I mean I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Morris told WYMT. “That was the main goal – to play professionally, get paid playing ball and just be able to have the experience going overseas.”
Morris, a Bell County native, averaged 15.1 points per game in her senior season at Kentucky, with a team-best 75 threes and 45.2% from long range. She ranks sixth all-time in scoring with 1,692 points, second in threes with 252, and first in three-point percentage, connecting on 41.1% of her attempts.
Buona fortuna, Maci!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 08th, 2019 @ 10:15pm
Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer has officially been inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Former Wildcat star Valerie Still, who played at Kentucky from 1979 to 1983, was inducted this evening at the Historic Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee.
I’ve seen a lot of orange this weekend and that’s fine, but there’s a lot of Kentucky blue in here tonight and I’ve seen it and love it!” Still said during her acceptance speech. “I want to thank that little, little girl from Camden, NJ that was told she was crazy to follow her dreams … I didn’t have money, a fancy car, a house with a white picket fence, AAU ball, etc., but I did have dreams. That’s all I needed.”
In her time at Kentucky, Still finished as the school’s all-time leader (men or women) in career scoring (2,763) and rebounding (1,525). The three-time consensus All-American led the program in scoring four-straight seasons with a career average of 23.2 points. At one point during the 1981-82 season, she led the nation in both scoring and rebounding before finishing second in both categories (24.8 PPG and 14.3 RPG).
In September of 2005, Still was inducted into the charter class in the newly-created UK Athletics Hall of Fame, where she was the only female of 88 total inductees.
Saturday the @WBHOF enshrines its latest class and the all-time leading scorer in Kentucky Basketball history will be front and center.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) June 6, 2019
Congratulations to the former Wildcat on such an incredible honor!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 21st, 2019 @ 10:45am
University of Kentucky women’s basketball forward Dorie Harrison is no longer with the program.
According to a release from UK, the 6-foot-3 sophomore will not return to Kentucky for the 2019-20 academic year and will transfer to Gulf Coast State Junior College this season.
“Dorie is an important member of our Kentucky family and we all fully support her and the steps she is taking,” said head coach Matthew Mitchell.
Harrison played in 32 games in 2017-18 as a freshman with eight starts, averaging 6.7 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game for the Wildcats. The Nashville, TN native was named SEC Freshman of the Week back on January 30, 2018 after finishing with 15 points and five rebounds against Alabama, along with 16 points and four rebounds at Arkansas.
She missed last season due to personal health reasons.
Out of high school, Harrison was named a 2017 McDonald’s All-America nominee and held offers from Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 19th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Rhyne Howard continues her domination. After spending a weekend of tryouts in Colorado, the Kentucky freshman has qualified for the 2019 USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team. She’s one of just 12 players from across the nation selected to participate, and she’ll be traveling around the globe to prepare and compete.
After leaving the trials, held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, she’ll have some time at home before heading to Tokyo, Japan in early July for a scrimmage against the Japanese team. Then, she’ll spend several days in Bangkok, Thailand in mid-July to compete for the country’s eighth gold medal.
There were 30 women competing for a spot on the team, and the final 12-player roster includes some of the top talent in the nation, including 10 returning gold medals (including Howard) and two NCAA Champions. Selections were made by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by George Washington University head coach Jennifer Rizzotti.
This summer won’t be the first Howard spends competing on the international stage. She spent last summer in Mexico, helping the U18 team to a 5-0 gold-medal run, earning MVP honors along the way.
This year, she’s the only current SEC player to make the cut. Here’s the rest of the roster:
Francesca Belibi (Regis H.S./Centennial, Colo.); Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy, Mass./St. Thomas, USVI); Cameron Brink (Southridge H.S./Beaverton, Ore.); Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.); Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa); Queen Egbo (Baylor/Houston, Texas); Naz Hillmon-Baker(Michigan/Cleveland, Ohio); Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.); Jordan Nixon (Notre Dame/New York, N.Y.); NaLyssa Smith (Baylor/Converse, Texas); Celeste Taylor (Long Island Lutheran/Valley Stream, N.Y.); and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.).
Howard is the real deal, and she’s representing Matthew Mitchell and the UK women’s basketball team on the international stage (again). It’s going to be fun watching her skills continue to develop over the next three seasons.