Kentucky lost five seniors from a season ago, but they bring in more than enough talent to fill in the gaps.
According to ESPN’s Graham Hays, a pair of teammates from the Kentucky Wildcats Women’s Basketball Team, first-year player Treasure Hunt and redshirt sophomore Olivia Owens, have been tabbed as two of the top 50 newcomers heading into the 2020-21 college season. Hunt, who was a five-star recruit out of Tennessee, came in at No. 10 while Owens, who recently gained immediate eligibility after transferring away from Maryland, landed at No. 41.
His list included any athlete who was playing on a new team for the first time, whether they be fresh out of high school or transfers. Coming in at No. 1 is an incredibly highly-touted prospect by the name of Paige Bueckers, who has played alongside Rhyne Howard as members of Team USA and will attend UConn this season.
Here’s what Hays had to say about the duo of first-year Wildcats.
10. Treasure Hunt, Kentucky: Assuming Kentucky has to wait for recent transfers Robyn Benton and Jazmine Massengill, Hunt, a 6-1 freshman, fills an immediate rotation need in the backcourt. And it won’t take Rhyne Howard’s friend and fellow Chattanooga product long to find chemistry with the star.
41. Olivia Owens, Kentucky: Granted a transfer waiver to play this season for the Wildcats, who had rebounding and shot-blocking deficits a season ago, the 6-4 Owens doesn’t need to be an immediate star to be valuable as coach Matthew Mitchell builds around Rhyne Howard.
Hunt is listed at 6-foot-1 with a skill set similar to that of her good friend and childhood teammate, Rhyne Howard. Expectations are high for her as she comes to Lexington a prized Matthew Mitchell recruit. As for Owens, at 6-foot-4 she provides an immediate strength down low that the ‘Cats have been missing over the last couple of years. She didn’t see much playing time as a Terrapin, and suffered a serious injury along the way, but will have plenty of opportunities to establish herself in the rotation this season.
As Hays referenced, there could potentially be two more fresh Kentucky faces who take the court next season, depending on what happens with their eligibility status. Tennessee transfer Jazmine Massengill and Auburn transfer Robyn Benton being able to play right away would undoubtedly force Hays to reconsider a few of his rankings.
But for now, we’ll take what we can get. The future is bright for this program.