#15 Kentucky Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats

Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
#15 Kentucky Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview
Kentucky Team Page


There were two halves to Kentucky’s 2014-2015 season. During the first 17 games when point guard Janee Thompson was healthy, the Wildcats were 14-3. In the final 17 games, the Wildcats went 10-7. Despite finishing fourth in the SEC with a 10-6 mark, the Wildcats still earned a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the high scoring Wildcats lost a 99-94 shootout to Dayton in the second round.

2014-15 Record: 24-10, 10-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matthew Mitchell
Coach Record: 194-80 at Kentucky, 224-109 overall

Despite losing Bria Goss and Jennifer O’Neill, the Kentucky backcourt still figures to be one of the best in the country. Linnae Harper and Makayla Epps figure to join Thompson in the starting lineup. Harper is only 5-8, but she is a beast on the glass. Last season she easily led the team with 7.1 rebounds per game. She is also an amazing perimeter defender and a very effective slasher. Harper is not going to knock down too many outside shots, but she did average 11.4 points per game as a sophomore last season and that number would have been a lot higher if she could hit more than 51.4 percent of her attempts from the charity stripe. Epps spent the offseason suspended from the team and she will miss the opening game of the regular season, but she will be back to lead Kentucky in scoring once again. After averaging 14.9 points per game, Epps is ready for a big junior year. The backcourt also adds highly regarded recruits Taylor Murray and Maci Morris and they will need to add some depth right away.

The frontcourt is very young and that could be a problem this season. However, the unit is also extremely talented so it could be a strength by February and March. The most experienced returning players are Alexis Jennings, Kyvin Goodin-Rogers and Alyssa Rice. Jennings showed plenty of potential as a freshman, averaging 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. Goodin-Rogers, a 6-1 junior, did start 15 games last season and is very capable of stretching the defense with her shooting ability. Rice is the best option Kentucky has as far as replacing Azia Bishop’s shot blocking ability. However, Rice is not much of a scorer threat. Ivana Jakubcova missed last season with an injury and at 6-6, the former junior college transfer has the size and experience to make an impact. Speaking of good junior college transfers, Kentucky arguably picked up the best junior college player in the country in Evelyn Akhator. She averaged 21.2 points, 16.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game as Chipola Junior College last season. Their top incoming freshman, Batouly Camara, is also a forward.

Final Projection:
If the frontcourt can live up to their potential, this is a Kentucky team that can dominate and be one of the best teams in the country. Obviously the SEC is going to be extremely tough, but the Wildcats potentially have the size and toughness in the paint to match anybody in the conference. Finding a shooter to replace O’Neill, whether it be in the starting lineup or off of the bench, will be very important as well. This team could become one dimensional offensively if Kentucky has to rely on Epps, Harper and Thompson attacking the basket.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Janee Thompson, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Linnae Harper, Junior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Makayla Epps, Junior, Guard, 14.9 points per game
Alexis Jennings ,Sophomore, Forward, 7.8 points per game
Evelyn Akhator, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.6 (21st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.0 (283, 14)
Field-Goal Percentage: 39.9 (168, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.3 (212, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.5 (226, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 28.6 (265, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.2 (221, 8)
Rebound Margin: 0.6 (158, 12)
Assists Per Game: 10.9 (293, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 16.3 (182, 7)

Madness 2015 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#32 Batouly Camara
#33 Taylor Murray
#60 Maci Morris


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