Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator Named AP All-SEC Performers

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky women’s basketball seniors Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator continue to add to their lengthy list of postseason honors as both were named All-Southeastern Conference performers by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Epps was a unanimous selection to the first team, while Akhator was named to the second team. Both players were named first team All-SEC by league coaches last week and were tabbed to the SEC All-Tournament Team. Epps was one of two players to be unanimously selected to the first team, joining South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, who was named Player of the Year.

The first-team honor is the third straight for Epps, who becomes the second player in program history to receive three straight AP All-SEC First Team honors. This is the second AP All-SEC honor for Akhator, who was also named a second-team performer last season.

Epps is having a great season for the Wildcats, averaging a team-best 17.2 points per game with a team-best 112 assists. The senior ranks second on the team in 3-point field-goal percentage, while sitting third in 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., has five career games of 30 or more points, which is tied for 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 has scored in double figures 28 times this season, including 12 games with 20 or more points.

Epps scored 12 points with five rebounds and one assist in Kentucky’s SEC Tournament quarterfinal win against Alabama, before posting a game-high 31 points with nine rebounds and three assists in Saturday’s semifinal against No. 5 South Carolina. Epps is the second player in program history to have two or more games of 30 or more points in the SEC Tournament.

Akhator is having another stellar season for Kentucky, sitting second on the team with 15.8 points per game and first on the squad with 10.5 rebounds per game. Akhator also ranks second on the team with 44 steals while leading the Wildcats with 24 blocks. The native of Lagos, Nigeria, has 16 double-doubles this season, which ranks 12th-most nationally and second in the league. Akhator also ranks top 20 nationally in field-goal percentage, total rebounds and rebounds per game. The senior has scored in double figures 25 times this season with double-digit rebounds in 18 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 has only been on campus for two years, Akhator ranks fourth in career double-doubles, second in rebounding averaging, ninth in scoring average and fourth in field-goal percentage.

The senior was brilliant in Kentucky’s two games in the SEC Tournament last weekend, 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.

 

FIRST TEAM

u-Makayla Epps, Kentucky, G, 5-10, Sr., Lebanon, Kentucky

u-A’ja Wilson, South Carolina, F, 6-5, Jr., Hopkins, South Carolina

Sophie Cunningham, Missouri, G, 6-1, So., Columbia, Missouri

Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State, F, 6-1, Jr., Carthage, Mississippi

Ronni Williams, Florida, F, 6-0, Sr., Daytona Beach, Florida

 

SECOND TEAM

Alaina Coates, South Carolina, C, 6-4, Sr., Irmo, South Carolina

Diamond DeShields, Tennessee, G, 6-1, Jr., Norcross, Georgia

Curtyce Knox, Texas A&M, G, 5-7, Sr., Humble, Texas

Evelyn Akhator, Kentucky, F, 6-3, Sr., Lagos, Nigeria

Mercedes Russell, Tennessee, C, 6-6, Jr., Springfield, Oregon

Morgan William, Mississippi State, G, 5-5, Jr., Birmingham, Alabama

 

Player of the Year — u-A’ja Wilson, South Carolina

Coach of the Year — u-Robin Pingeton, Missouri

Newcomer of the Year — Jordan Lewis, Alabama

 

AP All-SEC Voting Panel: David Cloninger, The State (Columbia, South Carolina); Dylan Dixon, The Independent Florida Alligator; Dan Fleser, Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee); Adam Minichino, The Commercial Dispatch (Memphis, Tennessee); Scott Rabalais, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana); Jen Smith, Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky); Dana Sulonen, Opelika-Auburn News (Alabama)

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