By LARRY VAUGHT
Senior Makayla Epps of Marion County plays her final game in Memorial Coliseum tonight and has put up some remarkable numbers already.
She has played in 127 games with 82 career starts. Epps became the second player in school history to post a triple-double with 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds last year. Her 1,664 points going into tonight’s game against No. 3 Mississippi State rank as the fifth-most in Kentucky history and her 389 assists are the eighth-most by a UK player.
She is the only player in school history to rank top five in scoring and top eight in assists. Epps leads UK averaging 16.9 points per game with a team-best 99 assists. She is tied for third in rebounds at 4.4 per game and third in steals with 26.
So where does she rank all-time among Kentucky-born players to play at UK?
“She is among the best, but we have some basketball to play and I will wait until she plays her final one to give you my final thoughts on that,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said Wednesday. “Here is the thing, here is where she ranks in my mind. She has been shaped through the adversity she has faced and it’s well documented the adversity she faced after her sophomore year.
She had a choice whether to choose an easier path and go somewhere else where I am sure someone would have accepted her and her talent. I am sure she had numerous options had she chosen that path. Or she could stay here and face some opportunities to grow and to mature as a person and she chose that path and not only endured it but embraced it and flourished through that process. That is why she will always be special with me. I
“I don’t have a great memory on the stats and who did what in games and how we won games. Those sort of fade, but the kids that really come here and who benefit by making a choice to learn and to grow and it is not easy but it is what you need to grow up and make this experience one you can draw on for the rest of your life, those are the ones that really stand out.
“From that respect, I will always remember her for making that decision and embracing that process and improving. She will always be real special from that standpoint.”