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Women’s Basketball Began Practice Today



We’re still about five weeks away from the first Kentucky women’s basketball exhibition game, which means it’s time for regular practices to become a part of the student-athlete’s schedule.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Lady Wildcats held its first practice of the season at the Joe Craft Center and the faint scent of basketball in the Bluegrass has turned into a full-on bouquet of fresh nets and mopped hardwood.

Led by reigning National Freshman of the Year, Rhyne Howard, the Cats head into the new season without recently departed seniors Maci Morris and Taylor Murray – who have both signed professional contracts overseas.

This year’s version of the team returns plenty of production and minutes from last season along with some key additions on both the recruiting trail and the transfer portal.

Howard is clearly going to be the engine – a task she is excited to tackle – but the team will boast a deep bench with experience all across the court.

Last season’s starting frontcourt of KeKe McKinney and Tatyana Wyatt will hold down the fort on the blocks again, this time as juniors with another year of experience under their drawstring gym shorts. 6-foot-1 junior Ogechi Anyagaligbo should also make some important contributions off the bench once again this season.

From the transfer portal, head coach Matthew Mitchell has added some size down low with 6-foot-3 Nae Nae Cole to go along with some much-needed depth and talent at the guard position, bringing in the 2017 No. 1 ranked point guard coming out of high school, Chasity Patterson, along with 5-foot-10 guard Sabrina Hines.

Incoming freshmen Deasia Merrill (the No. 62 overall recruit according to ESPN) and Emma King add another set of weapons for the Cats. Merrill will provide immediate depth behind McKinney and Wyatt while King (who went to Lincoln County HS) adds another tall sharpshooter off the bench. Sophomore Blair Green is also expected to return to her natural position at guard rather than playing the forward position, as she did most of last season.

But no set of players are going to have more pressure on them than the two seniors in the backcourt, Jaida Roper and Amanda Paschal, who will have the duty of taking over in the absence of Morris and Murray. Both players excelled in backup roles last season, and with Patterson expected to come in and immediately contribute, the depth and experience at that position are going to be a massive (and necessary) positive. Kameron Roach will also be able to provide some experience as she enters her third year playing at guard.

While losing Morris and Murray hurts, the players coming back along with the incoming class should have this team looking like a legitimate force out in the SEC. There is depth at every position. Almost too much depth. There’s going to be some talented players who won’t see the court as much as they might be capable of. Howard is going to have some insane expectations placed upon her as the star. With more size coming into the frontcourt, last season’s most glaring issue of defensive rebounding should be masked at least a bit. There are real aspirations that this team could win the entire SEC.

As Roper said in the above video, “it’s gonna be a movie, so stay tuned.”

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR