LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky senior guard Makayla Epps is one of 20 players in the nation on to the 2017 Nancy Lieberman Award preseason watch list, it was announced Monday. The award, which is hosted by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fall, annually recognizes the top point guard in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.
Epps is the only Southeastern Conference player on the preseason list, which will be narrowed down to 10 in mid-February before five finalists are selected in March. The winner of the 2017 Nancy Lieberman Award will be announced at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Dallas. The Selection Committee for the Nancy Lieberman Award is composed of top women’s college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers.
A native of Lebanon, Ky., Epps has earned lofty preseason praise in the last month. On top of being named to College Sports Madness’ and The Sporting News’ Preseason All-America First Team, Epps was tabbed to the Athlon Sports Preseason All-America Second Team and was named Preseason All-SEC by league media last week. Last season, Epps earned honorable-mention All-America honors by both The Associated Press and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
Epps had an amazing junior season for Kentucky, playing in 32 games and averaging 17.1 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game with 143 assists and 41 steals. The powerful guard scored 20-plus points 12 times during the season, while scoring in double digits in 29 of her 32 games played. Early in the season, Epps posted the second triple-double in program history with 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds against Morehead State. In conference play, Epps averaged 16.1 points per game and became the 31st member of Kentucky’s 1,000-point club, ending her junior season with 1,207 career points. She enters her senior season 19th all-time on Kentucky’s career scoring list.
Epps was a clutch performer against some of the best teams in the country last season. Against highly ranked Louisville, Duke, South Carolina (twice), Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M she averaged 18.4 points per game, hitting .486 from the field with 29 assists and 33 rebounds. In the SEC Tournament, Epps averaged 18.3 points per game, adding 12 assists and an impressive .553 shooting clip from the field.