#31 Kentucky Women's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats
Overall Rank: #31
Conference Rank: #7 SEC
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Kentucky reached their eighth straight NCAA Tournament in 2017 and should make it nine in 2018. Coach Matthew Mitchell does have some reloading to do though. Top scorers Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator are gone. Junior guards Taylor Murray and Maci Morris are expected to take over the leadership role when it comes to scoring. Murray is not a shooter, but the 5-6 guard does a superb job of attacking the basket and finishing or finding a teammate. Morris has more size and versatility. She connected on a team high 53 three-pointers last season and will also use her 6-0 frame to finish around the basket.
2016-17 Record: 22-11, 11-5
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matthew Mitchell
Coach Record: 241-100 at Kentucky, 271-129 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Makayla Epps, Guard, 17.7 ppg
Evelyn Akhator, Forward, 15.9 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Taylor Murray, Junior, Guard, 12.2 ppg
Maci Morris, Junior, Guard, 11.8 ppg
Alyssa Rice, Senior, Center, 4.2 ppg
Makenzie Cann, Senior, Guard, 5.8 ppg
Jessica Hardin, Senior, Guard, 3.1 ppg
Jaida Roper, Sophomore, Guard, 2.6 ppg
Paige Poffenberger, Sophomore, Guard
Lashae Halsel, Junior, Forward
Key New Players
Ogechi Anyagaligbo, Junior, Forward, Transfer, Stony Brook, eligible
Dorie Harrison, Freshman, Center
Keke McKinney, Freshman, Forward
Amanda Paschal, Junior, Guard, Transfer JC
Kameron Roach, Freshman, Guard
Tatyana Wyatt, Freshman, Forward
Murray and Morris can lead the way, but some of last year’s role players need to do more. Alyssa Rice is a 6-3 senior who started 30 games last season, but averaged just 4.2 points and 4.5 rebounds. With more shots to go around, Rice should have a more productive senior season. Players like Makenzie Cann, Jessica Hardin and Jaida Roper have shown some potential. Cann can knock down shots whether she steps into a starting spot this year or not. The addition of transfers Ogechi Anyagaligbo and Amanda Paschal will add some experience to the roster and Coach Mitchell is again bringing in a good class of freshmen. As long as some of those new faces can live up to their potential, Kentucky will be making their ninth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.9 (64th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.5 (142, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.7 (70, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.6 (219, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.1 (216, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.7 (208, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.0 (39, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.2 (115, 9)
Assists Per Game: 12.9 (191, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (10, 1)
Madness 2017 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#59 Keondra McKinney
#77 Tatyana Wyatt
#88 Dorie Harrison
#111 Kameron Roach