Akhator hopes to dominate senior season

Senior forward Evelyn Akhator goes up for a jump shot during the game against Union on Thursday, November 3, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

By Chase Campbell

Evelyn Akhator, the 6’3” senior from Lagos, Nigeria, is looking to improve even further on a fantastic performance last season. As a junior, she finished with 13 double-doubles, ranking her 12th in the all-time school record book for career double-doubles, achieved after only one season.

Being a transfer from Chipola Junior College didn’t faze the powerful forward as she made a point of being a powerful force in the Cats’ frontcourt.

Akhator, however, is always focused on the team. Over the offseason, there were several player changes, with almost half of this year’s roster not having played for the Cats last year. This didn’t seem to concern Akhator, and she seemed elated about where the team is coming into this season.

“Our chemistry has been amazing” Akhator said before the team’s first exhibition game. “With the psyche and everything, it’s great.”

Only going into her second year with this UK team, after being in junior college for her first two years, one would expect a performance gap in her play, but Akhator has been sure to dispel any concerns regarding her play in Division I basketball.

Akhator was named SEC Player of the week at the end of February, and was on the NCAA Starting Five at the beginning of March. She also earned a spot on the All-SEC Second team in her first season with the Cats, and she’s certain to be hungry for even more.

Akhator gives a lot of credit to the new members of the Kentucky coaching staff, talking for a while about all the praise they deserve.

“They really lift us up, and personally try to encourage us, try to make sure we’re okay,” Akhator said. “Whatever it is, they’re always there for us.”

She’s always ready to deflect praise to her teammates, but she’s sure to be a leading, driving force for the UK team that is ranked No. 19 in the preseason polls. Last year, Akhator had seven games in which she scored 15 points or more, and led the team in rebounding in about 70% of their games.

Akhator should prove to be a core piece to the frontcourt, and it will be a challenge for every team they match up with this season to stop her.

Their first regular season matchup will be against No. 14 Miami, on November 11th in Memorial Coliseum.