Well, I figured I would try to slide in one more of these before the big game on Saturday, so that I will have a few less to do next month. And DeNesha Stallworth is going to be a big factor in this season's plans for the UK Hoops Squad. She brings a lot to the table, and even more to the court. Follow along and I will show you the way.
Three years ago, DeNesha Stallworth was headed to the California Golden Bears to begin her collegiate career. It was a no-brainer for her. As a California girl, and a top California prospect, she was a perfect fit. She had all the accolades, being named a 2009 McDonald's All-American and 2009 WBCA All-American after an impressive prep career, 2009 Parade Magazine Fourth Team All-America and first-team All-State selection, 2008 Street & Smith All-American honorable mention, rated as the No. 12 prospect in the nation by Blue Star, No. 15 by Collegiate Girls Basketball report, No. 24 by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 32 by the All-Star Girls Report, including the No. 4 forward prospect by ESPN HoopGurlz. She was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2009 by NorCal Prep, finished her high school career with 2,170 points and 1,002 rebounds and was a three-time Most Valuable Player at PVHS, leading scorer in the state of California for the 2008-09 season, averaging 27.7 ppg, MVP of all the summer tournaments she played in (2006-08). Those credentials speak volumes about what she had done and what she was capable of doing.
Unfortunately she didn't feel like California was the best fit for her, even after she was able to lead the team in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game (8th in the Pac-10) while grabbing 6.4 rebounds a game (12th in the Pac-10), and was named an All-Pac-10 media selection in helping lead her squad to the Women's National Invitational Tournament for the second straight season. She scored over 20 points 7 times in her Sophomore season, and that was after a freshman year that saw her become the only player to start all 37 games, be selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and the official Pac-10 All-Freshman team as Cal's second-leading scorer (12.9) and rebounder (6.4 ppg).
Stallworth swatted a team-high 42 blocks, the 11th-highest single-season total in program history, posted the second-highest block total among Pac-10 freshmen and fifth overall among the Pac-10 players. She also helped lead the Golden Bears to the 2010 WNIT Championship title, and was named to the WNIT All-Tournament Team after averaging 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds. Thankfully she decided UK was where she was headed and Matthew Mitchell welcomed her with open arms.
DeNesha is going to help fill some holes in the middle for UK, and at the same time, may very well become the second scoring option that UK has desperately needed. A'dia Mathies uncanny ability to get to the basket not withstanding, DeNesha is a scorer. She does not hesitate to go to the basket with the ball, and knows how to play through traffic in the lane. She is not overly foul prone, although she has on a couple of occasions had to adjust her aggressive style to avoid foul trouble.
The best part for Stallworth is that she will not have to bear the brunt of all of UK's offense, or have to control everything on defense either. She has strong backups, and although I believe she will be the UK starter in the middle, there is no guarantee that one of them will not beat her out for the slot. She is All-SEC Caliber at the post, and I believe she is going to cause the single biggest change in UK's offense this season. She brings a Victoria Dunlap style of scoring back to the middle for UK and that could spell doom for many of the UK opponents when they line up for UK games.
Remember this young woman. She is going to bring something really special to Memorial this season. Maybe even an NCAA Championship.