You know that trophy case at UK? The one that holds eight NCAA Championship trophies? Well, don't look now, but Matthew Mitchell seems intent on making it a little more crowded. If you haven't looked lately, the 2012-2013 UK Hoops squad is loaded. Talent, depth, size, speed, shooting, and we already knew Mitchell could coach and recruit. And he is now looking to make a statement, if anything can be divined from this roster he has assembled.
Let's look closer after the jump.
Size: Try a front line that will feature three players at 6'3", with Azia Bishop, Samantha Drake, and DeNesha Stallworth. But that's not all. They will be joined by Jelleah Sidney, Samarie Walker, Bra'shey Ali, and Brittany Henderson, all of whom are 6'1" or 6'2". And after a year in Mitchell's system, Bishop, Drake, and Walker are going to be even faster and smoother than last year, which fills a huge hole in UK's plan of attack from the Elite Eight season a year ago. Many occasions found the UK Women suffering from being forced out of the paint and relying on perimeter shooting. That will not be a problem this year. When needed, Sidney can even move down to the 1 or 2 slots to fill there as well.
Experience: UK returns 8 of the 9 players who started last year, with former PG Amber Smith being the lone exception. but fear not Big Blue Faithful, Mitchell has taken care of that as well.
PG: Jennifer O'Neill, who will spend her summer running the point for the Puerto Rico Women's Olympic Squad will be back to take the reigns from Smith, and she will be joined by the newest McDonald's All American on the squad Janee Thompson, one of Mitchell's crop of talented freshmen.
Speed: Everyone now knows about Mitchell's resurrection of the Arkansas D of old, and this squad will be even faster than last year's. Summer workouts have become the stuff of legends, and Mitchell has this group already in better condition than last year's squad. If that is actually possible.
Shooting: These ladies can shoot, make no bones about it. Leading the scoring will be last year's SEC Player of The Year A'Dia Mathies. Followed by last year's Freshman Of The Year, Bria Goss. Throw in Kastine Evans, Bernisha Pinkett, and Maegan Conwright, and the guard position is not just covered, it is blanketed. They are fast, smart, and not afraid to pull the trigger. And with the experience gained by them last year, they will be that much quicker to help Mathies fill up the basket.
And just in case you like John Calipari and his "Firsts" for the men in UK history, you can chalk one up for the women as well. This season there will be 5 McDonald's All-Americans suiting up for Matthew Mitchell. That's right, 5. that should more than offset the loss of Crystal Riley, Smith, and Keyla Snowden, who accounted for a large portion of the UK perimeter shooting last season.
I heard that the women's ticket prices were going up slightly along with the men's. Guess what folks? If they doubled from last year, it would still be a bargain to watch this kind of talent in Memorial. The last time this much talent played on that court, Adolph Rupp was walking the sidelines looking for another National Championship for his trophy case. I have a feeling that Mitchell is going to be doing the same.