Cats finding new weapons amidst the graduation of Makayla Epps


Kentucky Wildcat guard Makayla Epps drives towards the basket during the third quarter of the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

It’s now official: Cats basketball legend Makayla Epps is no longer a student at the University of Kentucky.

Epps graduated on Friday after coming back to UK following the 2017 WNBA season. The four-year UK women’s basketball star was drafted by the Chicago Sky in 2017, and earned her degree in social work, earning even more admiration and respect from head coach Matthew Mitchell.

“So proud of Makayla Epps for finishing her degree and graduating. She could’ve gone overseas and played this fall but great discipline on her part to put an importance on school and get her degree. Just so happy and proud of her,” Mitchell said.

Epps will likely head over to Europe next to continue her professional basketball career before coming back for the 2018 WNBA season to play in her second season for the Sky. She’ll also have her high school jersey retired in Marion County this weekend.

After the departure of Epps and No. 3 overall pick Evelyn Akhator, the Cats have taken the beginning of the season to find out who their go-to players are in games.

Guards Taylor Murray and Maci Morris have shined in the early part of the season, and Mitchell said Friday that they were both players he would trust with the ball late in a game.

Murray has blossomed into the team’s star point guard in her third season with the team, scoring a season-high 22 points in 29 minutes in UK’s win over Sacramento State. She also averages 3.6 assists and 5.9 rebounds this year, comparable to Epps’s junior season, when she averaged 4.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Morris, a junior, has been an offensive titan for the Cats in recent years, as she’s been UK’s main three-point threat against opponents. Like Epps, Morris is from the state of Kentucky and is often the Cats’ first choice to finish a possession.

Morris is shooting over 50 percent from the floor and the three-point line over the first 11 games, and she hit a season-high five threes against the team’s loss to Baylor earlier in the season.

The legend that Epps leaves with her graduation, even if she wasn’t on the team to begin with this year, is immense. The Cats are working on finding more ways to make up for the end of an era.