By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell knows his team took a big hit when transfer Ogechi Anyagaligbo suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee during Sunday’s exhibition game and is out for the season.
“Really so sad for her because she has worked so hard and she had to sit last year due to transfer rules and now a tough blow for her to absorb. She has had a great attitude so far and she will get the very best care that she could possibly receive here from our medical team.,” Mitchell said Friday.
“Tough blow for Ogechi and tough for our team. But unfortunately it is something that we have had experience with before. So we are just going to figure out where the silver lining is and more forward. Ogechi is still a really important part of our program and will have an impact on our team. We have not determined a date for surgery yet. That is always a work in progress and we will let you know when that happens. ”
During a preseason interview, Mitchell told me she would be a “real big piece of the puzzle” for his team this year.
“About 6-1, with really long arms and a strong, nasty, tough post presence. Great shot blocker and timing for a kid that size,” Mitchell said.
UK was down to six scholarship players when Anyagaligbo transferred to UK giving Mitchell a huge vote of confidence.
“We knew we had to add some players … if nothing else to practice and round up a team. The options there then were graduate transfers, which we could not get any traction there. An unsigned freshman, which is very sparse at that time we needed them. If they have not signed, usually a reason. Then we got real fortunate when Jaida Roper came back around because of the Louisiana Tech thing and we got her that was helpful,” Mitchell said. “Then transfers who could practice. She was huge part of our team. She practiced every day.
“She kind of got antsy in the recruiting process and didn’t let it play out, signed with Stony Brook, got there and then felt like as American East Freshman of the Year that she jumped the gun and maybe wanted to play at a higher level.
“She got her release and was looking for a place to land. We were scouring the waiver wire at that time and trying to figure out who was where and (assistant) Niya (Butts) heard she was transferring. We got involved, got her here for a visit and I liked what I saw watching on film. She was a great find for us because she is a real competitor and fits a lot of things we do.”
Now she has to wait another year to show Kentucky fans why she is such a great fit for Mitchell.