UK women’s basketball not short on SEC honors

Freshman guard Rhyne Howard dribbles the ball down the court after stealing the ball. No. 11 UK women’s basketball team lost to No. 19 Texas A&M 62-55 at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Jake Maynard

In addition to Kentucky women’s basketball’s successful regular season, the Wildcats raked in a slew of awards from the SEC league office. Head coach Matthew Mitchell and four players were awarded All-SEC Honors.

Rhyne Howard won Freshman of the Year and was selected to the All-Freshman and All-SEC First Team. Maci Morris was also selected to the All-SEC First Team and was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year; Taylor Murray made the All-Defense Team; and Blair Green made the All-Freshman Team.

Mitchell is sharing his Coach of the Year award with Mississippi State’s Vic Shaefer. The award began in 1984, and this is only the second time since its inception that Co-Coaches of the Year were named, the other being in 2015.

Mitchell led his team to a 24-6 regular season record and 11-5 SEC record. In his 12 seasons coaching the Wildcats, this is Mitchell’s ninth season with 20 or more wins. In the program’s 33 seasons before Mitchell, the Wildcats had 10 20-win seasons. This is his second Coach of the Year award, with his first coming in 2010, making him just the eighth coach in SEC history to win the award more than once.

Howard is the third player in program history to be named the SEC Freshman of the Year after A’dia Mathies and Bria Goss, and the first Kentucky freshman to make the All-SEC First Team and ninth SEC freshman to ever make both. The Freshman of the Year Award going to Howard seemed inevitable as she won SEC Freshman of the Week a record eight times this season.

Howard has enjoyed one of the best freshman seasons in program history. She averages a team-high 16.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Morris is the third player under Mitchell to be named the Scholar Athlete of the Year. The senior from Bell County, Kentucky, has earned the right to call herself one of the best players in program history as she ranks sixth all-time with 1,647 points. She has the highest career three-point percentage in program history with 40.9 percent made and the second most threes made with 245.

Murray has now been named to the All-SEC Defensive Team in consecutive seasons, the the third player under Mitchell to do so after Victoria Dunlap and A’dia Mathies.

Murray ended her career in a way she should be proud of, averaging 12.4 points per game and leading the team with 111 assists and 92 steals. She will end her career as a Wildcat as top five in both steals and assists and was named a semifinalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.

Green has been a consistent addition to an impressive Kentucky team this season as she is one of only three Wildcats to play in all 30 games. She is averaging 5.7 points per game and is shooting 42.9 percent from the field.

Although UK’s year isn’t over yet, reflection on the regular season is always in order.