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Kentucky WBB predicted to finish second in SEC Coaches Poll

(UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)

The Kentucky women’s basketball team is projected to finish second in the Southeastern Conference, as predicted by the league’s coaches.

The Wildcats, who came in at No. 11 in last week’s debut of the AP preseason top 25, sit behind only the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC.

Following USC and UK are Texas A&M, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Tennessee and LSU to round out the top half the league. And then from there, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Ole Miss, Florida, Vanderbilt and Auburn round out the bottom half.

Kentucky star Rhyne Howard was also voted as SEC Women’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year and made the All-SEC Preseason First Team, joining South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, Arkansas’ Chelsea Dungee, Auburn’s Unique Thompson, LSU’s Khayla Pointer, Mississippi State’s Rickea Jackson, Tennessee’s Rennia Davis and Texas A&M’s N’dea Jones.

Preseason Coaches’ Predictions

Order of Finish

  1. South Carolina
  2. Kentucky
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Arkansas
  5. Mississippi State
  6. Tennessee
  7. LSU
  8. Alabama
  9. Georgia
  10. Missouri
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Florida
  13. Vanderbilt
  14. Auburn

Player of the Year

  • Rhyne Howard, Kentucky

First Team All-SEC

  • Chelsea Dungee, Arkansas
  • Unique Thompson, Auburn
  • Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
  • Khayla Pointer, LSU
  • Rickea Jackson, Mississippi State
  • Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
  • Rennia Davis, Tennessee
  • N’dea Jones, Texas A&M

Second Team All-SEC

  • Jasmine Walker, Alabama
  • Destiny Slocum, Arkansas
  • Lavender Briggs, Florida
  • Shakira Austin, Ole Miss
  • Jessika Carter, Mississippi State
  • Aijha Blackwell, Missouri
  • Zia Cooke, South Carolina
  • Kayla Wells, Texas A&M

Here is the rest of the release from UK Athletics:

Kentucky returns a large portion of its production for 2020-21 even with the departure of five 2020 seniors due to graduation. UK will bring back its top two scorers, while also returning its top two rebounders. Kentucky will also add Maryland transfer Olivia Owens, 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Dre’una Edwards and a top-15 recruiting class in true freshmen Treasure Hunt, Nyah Leveretter and Erin Toller.

Also returning will be the 2020 SEC 6th Woman of the Year in Chasity Patterson, who averaged 11.5 points in 19 games last season. In the post, UK returns KeKe McKinney, who averaged 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds, and Tatyana Wyatt, who averaged 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds. Kentucky natives Blair Green and Emma King will also be back for the Wildcats and hope to build on promising 2019-20 seasons. Several players will return to the team but did not see time last year due to injury or NCAA transfer rules. Edwards headlines that list after impressing during her freshman year at Utah along with guard Kameron Roach, who is healthy after she tore her Achilles at the end of her sophomore season and used last year to rehab and regain strength.

Howard is the leading returner after a sensational sophomore season for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats and ranking second nationally with 23.4 points per game. The guard also led UK with 6.5 rebounds per game and 62 steals, while she was second on the team with 29 blocks and third on the team with 68 assists. Howard hit 84 3-pointers this season, which was the most in program history in a single season, topping the previous record of 81 set by Sara Potts in 2004-05. Her 3.1 3-pointers per game ranked top-10 nationally while her 633 total points ranked fifth nationally. Howard’s 23.4 scoring average was the most for a UK player under Matthew Mitchell and the fourth-best average in program history.

Howard placed her name all over the Kentucky record books in 2019-20 as the only player in program history to score 25 or more points in five straight games while she was the second player to score 20 or more points in eight straight games. Howard had two stretches during the season of 20 or more points in eight straight games, including each of her last eight games played after missing three games with a finger injury.

Two of the top-12 scoring performances in program history came last season by Howard. The first was her 37 points in UK’s win vs. Tennessee followed by a school-record tying 43 points at Alabama. She is the only player in program history to score 37+ points in consecutive games and the first to hit seven or more 3-pointers in consecutive games. On top of earning six double-doubles last season, Howard became the second fastest UK player ever to reach 1,000 career points and ended the season with 1,158 career points which ranks 27th on UK’s all-time scoring list.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR