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Rhyne Howard ranked as No. 1 player in America by ESPN

This could be a special season for her.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 SEC Women’s Tournament - Kentucky vs Mississippi State Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Everyone knew Rhyne Howard was special when she signed to play for the Kentucky Wildcats. She had a fantastic freshman season that let everyone know she was going to leave her mark on the Kentucky program and perhaps all of college basketball. But in her sophomore year, she established herself as one of the best in the country. ESPN has predicted her to be the best in her junior season.

“We’ve grown accustomed to it because of Kelsey Mitchell, Kelsey Plum and Megan Gustafson, but it isn’t all that common for the nation’s leading scorer to play in a Power 5 conference,” ESPN wrote of Howard. “The nation’s leading returning scorer isn’t likely to score any less this season, even as the Wildcats adjust to a new coach and some new supporting characters. She’s a 6-foot-2 guard who was among the best in the SEC a season ago at both getting to the free throw line and hitting 3-pointers, a good indication of the impossible choices opponents face when defending her.”

Last year, Howard was second in the country (first among Power 5 schools) in scoring with 23.4 points per game. For her career at Kentucky, she has shot 38.4% from behind the three-point line. She has also averaged 6.6 rebounds per game and made her free throws at nearly a 75% clip.

Howard is special, and she very well may leave Kentucky as the best to ever play women’s basketball in Lexington. The team is coming into the season ranked No. 11 in the country, but with a solid core of returners and the addition of freshman Treasure Hunt this team could make a deep run in the tournament.

Not only will Howard be known as one of the best players in the history of the program, but if this team lives up to their potential she could be the leader of one of the best team’s in school history.

Read the rest of ESPN’s top 25 women’s college basketball players here.