By LARRY VAUGHT
Playing only three minutes and hitting a 3-point shot might not have seemed like a big deal to most players. But for Kentucky’s Jessica Hardin, it was huge Sunday against Florida because it was her first Southeastern Conference game of the year.
After joining the team in the summer when coach Matthew Mitchell held tryouts, Hardin became a consistent contributor for UK before suffering a concussion against Duke in late December before SEC play started. She had not played since.
“I was hoping to get her in a little bit earlier. It was, you know, the second quarter – we didn’t handle that great. It was very close. I didn’t want to get her into a position where the first time back in after a 12-game absence where you’re just in an absolute pressure cooker. So it worked out really well today, and she’s been doing that in practice,” Mitchell said after the win over Florida.
“She’s really been shooting the ball well. You know she took so much time off with the concussion, but man it didn’t affect her shooting at all. She’s been shooting the ball well in practice. And she’s been building. She’s been getting better.
“I hope that gives her a little shot in the arm, and gives her some confidence. Got out there a little bit today and so we’ll just keep trying to work her back in, but I still believe she can play a very vital role in postseason.”