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By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s obvious the Kentucky women’s team willÃ‚Â miss Victoria Dunlap, a two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year who led UK to near the top of the SEC the last two years.
However, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how much Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell was going to miss his superstar until I asked him recently.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I loved Victoria as a person. She and I became very close. (My wife) Jenna and I are naming our child, Saylor Rose, and the Rose is VictoriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s middle name. We just want to remember how important she was to us. She was just like a family member,” Mitchell said.
“Her play on the court was a catalyst to lead the program to places we hoped we could go but there were not guarantees. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†think of her. Really close to her. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†will miss her personality. She was a lot of fun to be around and we had a lot of good times over the four years. She would come in the office and we would talk about stuff that did not relate to basketball. I will miss that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then on the court, she was just so steady. Not a lot of players, and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am talking about making a huge difference, in all phases. Over the course of four years she went and got rebounds you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how she got. She would make defensive plays you wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how she made them. She would make big shots at big times. She had a great sense for the moment. She was not a great 3-point shooter, but IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†can remember last season she made a big 3 at Vanderbilt that we needed. She could do things like that that not a lot of people can do.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are going to have to see if we have somebody that can do that or we are going to have to be sharper because we wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have that player that can just bail you out with unbelievable athletic feats like she could. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a big loss.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Both on and off the court.