LEXINGTON, Ky. – More preseason previews mean more preseason honors for the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team as Sporting News has named senior guard Makayla Epps and senior forward Evelyn Akhator to its preseason All-America Team. The publication also ranked Kentucky No. 10 in its preseason poll.
Epps was named to the publication’s first team, while Akhator was on the third team. In all, six Southeastern Conference players were named to either the first, second or third teams with Kentucky and South Carolina the only two schools with two selections. This is the second preseason All-America honor for Epps, who was named to Athlon Sports’ Preseason All-America Second Team earlier this month.
Last season, Epps was named honorable-mention All-America by the Associated Press and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association after playing in 32 games, averaging a team-best 17.1 points. Epps scored 20+ points 12 times during the year, while scoring in double digits 29 times. Early in the season, Epps posted the second triple-double in program history with 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds against Morehead State. During SEC play, the Lebanon, Ky., native became the 31st member of Kentucky’s 1,000-point club and ended her junior year with 1,207 career points, which ranks her 19th all-time on Kentucky’s scoring list.
The star shone the most on the biggest of stages this season. During the regular season against highly-ranked Louisville, Duke, South Carolina (twice), Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M, Epps averaged 18.4 points per game, hitting .486 from the field with 29 assists and 33 rebounds. Those performances continued in the SEC Tournament as Epps led the team averaging 18.3 points, adding 12 assists and an impressive .553 shooting clip from the field.
In her first year at Kentucky, Akhator was a key addition to the Wildcats’ post presence, averaging 11.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. The native of Lagos, Nigeria, scored in double figures 24 times, while posting 10 or more rebounds in 15 games. Against No. 11 Texas A&M in the regular-season finale, Akhator scored 15 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds to earn SEC Player of the Week honors. In the SEC Tournament, Akhator averaged 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Akhator had 13 double-doubles last season, including four double-doubles where she recorded more rebounds than points. Akhator’s 13 double-doubles were the most by any player in a single-season under head coach Matthew Mitchell. For her efforts last season, Akhator was named an All-SEC Second-Team performer by both the Associated Press and league coaches.
Kentucky will begin the 2016-17 season on Nov. 11 against Miami (Fla.) at 7 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.