I know, I know. It's football season. Mark Stoops has charmed the world. He has the entire Big Blue Nation wrapped around his little finger (almost). However, let us not forget that we have other sports at UK; such as, you know, basketball?
Coach Mitchell only added three more players to this year's squad. But oh my can he add!
First, but in no particular order, Makayla Epps.
Makayla Epps. Kentucky born, Kentucky bred. A 5'10" combo guard with shooting and ball handling skills. She comes by it honest however, considering that her father is the legendary Anthony Epps, point guard from one of the greatest teams ever to lace up shoes on a college basketball court. Makayla is quick, she is sure-footed, and she can shoot. More than any of that, though, she loves to play defense.
Epps is possibly the most decorated freshman to come along to UK from our home state, ever, including A'dia Mathies. She is the Kentucky Miss Basketball, a Gatorade Player of The Year, a McDonalds All-American, and carried her team to an undefeated 36-0 record this past season at Marion Co. She can isolate her defender and take them off the curl with her size, or she can blow by on a drive with her blazing speed. She is a prototypical Matthew Mitchell player. All business and ready to run. She will thrive inside the 40 Minutes system. Look for her to begin immediately pushing her upperclass teammates for playing time.
Kyvin Goodin-Rogers. This young lady is a 6' 1" forward with muscle and attitude. She is not going to be a superstar at UK, but what she is going to be is one of the most loved players on the team, because all she does is work. She is the "grab your dinner-bucket and hard hat and get to work" kind of a player that every great team has. She just shows up and gets the job done. she also spent her high school years at Marion Co. and is ranked a 4* recruit by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Kyvin originally committed to UL with Epps, but she also made the change to UK when the opportunity came her way. These two are going to be some serious ball players after a couple years together at UK. They know each other well now, and will make a great combo coming off the bench for Mitchell as freshmen.
Linnae Harper. What do you say about a McDonalds' All American who also made the USA U-19 team and was a finalist for the McDonald’s National High School Player of the Year Award? The 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team marks the third Team USA basketball team she’s being involved with. Last summer, she was a member of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship team that finished 8-0 and captured gold in the Netherlands. The summer before, she won her first gold medal, a part of the 2011 USA Basketball U16 national team.
Harper is the entire package with the ball. While her size might lead some to think that she will be at a disadvantage at only 5' 8", Harper also put together a perfect season in her four-year career at Whitney Young High School in Chicago by leading her team to a 34-0 record and the 2012 Illinois Class 4A state championship as a junior.
These three are the latest cogs in the Mitchell machine. They will be perfect fits. They make a very deep and experienced team even deeper, and with Harper's Team USA experience going for her, she may very well become an immediate contributor. If these three show up ready for Coach Mitchell's painstaking summer camps, make their individualized workouts count, and make it a priority to fit into the system right away, this could spell some really good things for this team early on.
Making this team won't be easy, as my next few pieces on these young women will indicate. UK Hoops is loaded once again, and they are looking to make this season one to remember.