After a 22-8 season in 2019-2020, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team has lofty goals for next season.
Why? Matthew Mitchell has something that no other coach in America does — the nation’s top returning scorer.
Rhyne Howard poured in a ridiculous 23.4 points a game as a sophomore last season, earning her SEC Player of the Year honors.
People who are familiar with SEC Women’s basketball aren’t the only ones who are aware of Howard’s all-around game. The entire country has been put on notice that she is a legitimate threat for National Player of the Year awards, and potentially a deep tournament run with UK in 2021.
ESPN’s Graham Hays spelled it out pretty clear with an article that he posted on Monday. The piece was titled Ranking the 10 best women’s college basketball players for 2020-21.
Who took the top spot? If you guessed Rhyne Howard (which was an easy one), then you would be correct. As if being the nation’s leading returning scorer wasn’t enough reasoning for her to claim the top spot, Hays also noted Howard’s impact on the defensive end. With Matthew Mitchell’s tendencies to play pressure defense, it will also allow one of the best scorers in the country to become a playmaker on both sides of the ball.
Here is an excerpt from Hays’ article:
Why she could win: She will be the nation’s leading returning scorer after averaging 23.4 points per game this season. That’s a good start. Howard does so much well. Kentucky’s pressure allows her to influence games on the defensive end. She rebounds well from the perimeter and is remarkably sure-handed. But it’s her ability to score that makes her a potentially generational talent. A 6-foot-2 guard who can get her own shot at any time and is highly proficient from the 3-point and free throw lines, she’s almost impossible to defend on the college level.
I have personally seen what kind of damage that Rhyne Howard can do to an opposing team. I covered the Cats against the Cards at Rupp Arena this season for A Sea Blue. She torched Louisville for 26 points and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but UK fell 67-66.
Ryhne Howard is going to be must-see TV next season.