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Cup Runneth Over

Kentucky Women’s Basketball has reloaded in a way no one would have thought possible (Dr. Michael Huang Photo).

(LEXINGTON, Ky.) – What in the heck is going on with the Kentucky women’s basketball program?

Just a few months earlier, it appeared that the Grim Reaper was knocking on the doorstep. Led by First-Team All-American Rhyne Howard, the Wildcats were saddled with a less-than-stellar 9 – 11 losing record, having lost eight of their last nine contests. The program appeared to be on life support, with no last-minute rescue in sight.

Lo and behold—a magical run to the SEC tournament championship brought a temporary reprieve from the naysayers, but Kyra Elzy’s troops promptly flamed out in the first round of the NCAA Big Dance.

Howard then left for the WNBA while teammates Dre’Una Edwards, Jazmine Massengill, and Treasure Hunt took their talents to the transfer portal. Then when Olivia Owens took her talents to law school, many wondered if Kentucky could even field a team. Rumors of team dissension combined with an inexperienced head coach—in way over her head—left everybody thinking the end was near.

As it turned out, nothing could have been further from the truth. Buoyed by the shiny new tournament trophy, Elzy got a new contract extension, and the floodgates subsequently opened. Like manna from heaven, recruits and transfers started dropping out of the sky.

First it was Kennedy Cambridge, a four-star guard out of Nashville, who was ranked No. 52 overall by All-Star Girls Basketball Report. Shortly afterwards, Adebola Adeyeye—a versatile and athletic 6-2 forward graduate transfer from Buffalo—signed on. If that weren’t enough, Zennia Thomas—who averaged 30 points and 14 rebounds as the Ohio Division III District Player of the Year—inked on with the Wildcats.

Just when we didn’t think things could get any better, news breaks out on the same day that Eniya Russell from the reigning national champion South Carolina Gamecocks and Ajae Petty, a much-needed 6-3 post player from LSU, had also entered BBN through the transfer portal.

BUT WAIT! We’re not done. News leaked out on Saturday that Maddie Scherr, a five-star former Kentucky Miss Basketball will transfer back from Oregon to play for her Old Kentucky Home.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of all this fanciful good news was that Elzy had already previously inked four other stalwart additions to her depleted roster. In four-star post player Tionna Herron, four-star guard Saniah Tyler, in-state star guard Cassidy Rowe from Virgie, and Miss Kentucky Basketball Amiya Jenkins from Lawrenceburg, you’re not talking chopped liver. My Goodness, my cup runneth over.

We’ll need a fancy schmancy spreadsheet to keep up with the roster next year. For heaven’s sake, let’s not forget the returning players either. Remember Jada Walker, the 5-7 sparkplug of a point guard who had a breakout freshman season? Yep, she’ll be back, together with sharpshooter Robyn Benton and home-state favorites Emma King and Blair Green at the guard positions. Oh yeah, 6 – 3 Nyah Leveretter will be returning to clog the middle also.

What do we make of all this bounty?

First of all, Kentucky should be pretty good next year. They have enough raw talent to give anybody—including South Carolina—a run for their money. With Elzy’s favored pressing style, all these fresh bodies should run the opposition ragged. You won’t, however, be able to replace a transcendent generational talent like Rhyne Howard. But with ten all-star caliber newcomers and five returning letter(wo)men, I’ll accept the tradeoff. Can anybody say platoon?

Here’s the ultimate takeaway from what transpired last season. Things don’t often appear like they seem. We have no insider knowledge of what’s really going on inside the huddle. Often times, one man’s dissension is another man’s discipline. We shouldn’t be so quick to judge that which we are unfamiliar. When it comes to coaching, most of us don’t know what we’re talking about anyway.

Bottom line: The University of Kentucky is still regarded as a school where the most talented players want to come play. The recent recruiting bonanza bore that out. With the unbridled support of BBN, the program is naturally set up for success year after year. Elzy has shown she can reel in the talent. Now it’s up to her and her staff to coach ‘em up on the court.

Big Blue Madness can’t come soon enough.

Dr. John Huang is a UK columnist for Nolan Group Media and editor-in-chief of JustTheCats.com. He also covers the NFL and MLB for Sports View America. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs. If you enjoy his writing, be sure to check out his new book, KENTUCKY PASSION. https://www.amazon.com/Kentucky-Passion-Wildcat-Wisdom-Inspiration/dp/1684351669

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him @KYHuangs@gmail.com. If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at www.huangswhinings.com.
http://www.huangswhinings.com

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