Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator Named AP All-America Honorable Mention

Makayla Epps (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGT­­­ON, Ky. – The postseason honors continue to stack up for Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator as the University of Kentucky women’s basketball duo has most recently been named All-America Honorable Mention by the Associated Press.

This is the third straight season that Epps has been named an honorable mention selection to the AP’s All-America team, while this is the first such honor of Akhator’s career. Both players have earned high praise this postseason as Epps was named first team All-Southeastern Conference by league coaches and the AP, while Akhator was first team All-SEC by league coaches and was a second-team selection by the AP. Both players were named to the SEC All-Tournament Team and most recently were tabbed to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-Region Team. Akhator was also named fourth team All-America by after the regular season, while Epps was on the national watch lists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy, John R. Wooden Award and Dawn Staley Award.

Epps had a great senior season for Kentucky, averaging a team-best 17.7 points per game while sitting tied for the team lead with 118 assists. The senior ranked second on the team in 3-point field-goal percentage, while sitting third in overall field-goal percentage, rebounds per game and steals per game. Epps is the only player to end the regular season ranked top 10 in the SEC in points, field goal percentage and assists.

The native of Lebanon, Ky., ended her career with six games of 30 or more points, which is the third most in program history. Epps is the only player in school history to rank top five in UK history in scoring and top eight in career assists. The explosive guard scored in double figures 30 times this season, including 14 games with 20 or more points. Epps finishes her career with 1,790 total points, averaging 13.5 points per game with 408 career assists for 3.06 assists per game – all numbers that rank top 10 in program history.

Epps posted a game-high 31 points with nine rebounds and three assists against No. 5 South Carolina in the SEC Tournament and continued her strong postseason play in the NCAA Tournament first round against Belmont with 30 points and five assists. The guard posted 21 points with four assists in the second round against Ohio State. 

Akhator took her game to a new level this season, sitting second on the team with 15.9 points per game and first on the squad with 10.8 rebounds per game. Akhator also ranked second on the team with 45 steals while leading the Wildcats with 29 blocks. The native of Lagos, Nigeria, had 18 double-doubles on the year, which ranked top 20 nationally and second in the league. Akhator also ranked top 20 nationally in field-goal percentage, total rebounds and rebounds per game. The senior scored in double figures 27 times this season with double-digit rebounds in 20 games.

During conference play, Akhator become only the second player in school history to score 24 or more points with 15 or more rebounds in consecutive games. Although she was only on campus for two years, Akhator ended her career tied for third in school history in double-doubles, second in all-time rebounding averaging, eighth all-time in scoring average and fourth in field-goal percentage.

The senior was brilliant in Kentucky’s two games in the SEC Tournament, averaging 23.5 points with 10.0 rebounds per game. In the quarterfinals against Alabama, Akhator had 23 points with nine rebounds and three assists, going 7-of-13 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free-throw line. She followed that performance with 24 points and 11 rebounds – including seven offensive boards – against No. 5 South Carolina. Akhator had a double-double in each of UK’s NCAA Tournament games with 22 points and 10 rebounds vs. Belmont and 14 points and a UK NCAA Tournament game record 23 rebounds against Ohio State.

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