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Kyvin Goodin-Rogers

On Kyvin Goodin-Rogers spirits

“They were good this morning. I think we can expect a range of emotions here early on. She’s trying to have a really positive attitude through this very difficult situation. You can imagine coming to play at Kentucky has been something she’s been looking forward to doing for so long, and to work so hard during the summer and work harder than you’ve ever worked before, then you get right here to the beginning of the season and it’s taken away from you. It’s a very difficult set of circumstances for her. I think she’s really working hard to try and stay positive through a very disappointing set of circumstances. I think in the end, for her, it’s great that she communicated with our training staff and medical staff, so we could identify a serious problem. We’ll work real hard with her to find a positive way out of this and we certainly believe there is a positive outcome ”

On when Goodin-Rogers realized something was wrong

“She woke up Sunday night around 10:30 p.m. with a very sharp pain in her chest. We couldn’t identify it at that time , so we didn’t know what was going on. It subsided a little bit and she was able to get some sleep. She was able to come in and lift ( Monday morning ), but was still struggling with pain, so she asked the trainer for a couple Aleve and we started asking her what was going on. She said she had a sharp pain in her chest and that is never really good. That’s when our plan went into action. She didn’t practice Monday morning and we got her over to the student health center. The good folks over at Chandler Hospital really handled everything wonderfully. She had a CAT scan somewhere around one in the afternoon and it revealed a blood clot. We couldn’t be more proud of how Kvyin communicated to the medical staff and how it was handled all the way through.”

On how much it will affect the team’s frontcourt depth

“That’s one great thing I feel about our program is that if you want a chance to play, you are going to get it here. Every single day we have up – tempo, physical practices. Everybody gets reps and everybody gets a chance. We have a talented team, there’s no quote – unquote end of the bench where it’s written in stone you aren’t going to play. It’s still so very early, so she had a great opportunity to earn playing time. She was certainly at a spot where she was behind because there are seniors and juniors, but I thought she had really come on in the last week or so and progressing well. She would have had plenty of opportunity to play.”

University of Kentucky freshman forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers will miss the 2013-14 season after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism on Monday. Tests conducted at the Albert B. Chandler Hospital confirmed the blood clot in her lung that she will not play this season.

“This condition requires her to be on blood thinners for several months, therefore she will not be available to play this season,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She came to our senior athletic trainer, Courtney Jones, after suffering from sharp pains in her chest on Monday. Kyvin’s health is our main concern right now. We are confident we’ll move forward in a positive direction with this challenge.”

Goodin-Rogers, 18, was expected to be a key factor in the front court for the No. 8 Wildcats. The Lebanon, Ky., native was ranked as the nation’s 19th-best forward by after averaging 12.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.4 blocks per game as a senior at Marion County High School last season. She finished her prep career with 2,401 points, 1,663 rebounds and 463 blocks, ranking ninth all-time in rebounds and seventh in blocks. She was a finalist for the 2013 Kentucky Miss Basketball Award and helped lead the Lady Knights to a perfect 39-0 record in 2013 and Marion County’s first state tournament title in eight appearances.



Matthew Mitchell would like to think of his three freshmen — Marion County’s Makayla Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers along with Chicago’s Linnae Harper — could eventually be special players.

“The best thing I like about them is the way they have approached life at Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “They have great hearts and are high character kids. They are really talented, too.”

Harper, a point guard, spent part of the summer playing for Team USA and missed time at UK with her future teammates.

“It will help her down the road, but it did slow her down as far as having a chance to really kind of get together with the rest of the players in the summer and mesh,” Mitchell said. “She is a little behind from that standpoint knowing exactly what we are trying to do, but in the long run that experience on that big stage and with that kind of pressure on you to perform for your country can only make her better.”
Epps and Goodin-Rogers both initially gave verbal commitments to Louisville before signing with Kentucky.

“I think they ended up doing what they wanted to do,” the Kentucky coach said. “I think Kentucky will always be Kentucky. I think we will always have players that want to play in the state and that will not have anything to do with Matthew Mitchell but it will be because of what the University of Kentucky means to the people of the commonwealth. As long as somebody sitting in my seat works hard and is a person of integrity and upholds the right values, then Kentucky kids will always want to play at Kentucky. Some won’t, but for the majority of people in the state of Kentucky, playing here is really special like it is for them. That is going to happen no matter who signs here or who coaches here. Kentucky kids love Kentucky.”

Mitchell will have a team expected to contend for a SEC championship again and then finally try to make it to the Final Four for the first time in school history. Whatever happens, he knows how lucky he is to have gone from UK assistant to UK head coach after a stint as head coach at Morehead.

“I may be different than a lot of coaches. I feel God had a plan for me and led me to Kentucky. I’ve always felt God had planned something for me,” Mitchell said. “When I got to Kentucky and felt how special it was and how connected I got so quickly, I loved it. I felt God working in my life. This is the most special place and where I am supposed to be. In coaching a lot of times you are searching for where you want to be and where that next great opportunity will be. The most special thing for me here is that I am at home and where I am supposed to be.”

However, he’s become so much at home that while he may not be the celebrity that UK men’s coach John Calipari is, he is well known wherever he goes.

No regrets
Any regrets about always being recognized by UK fans?

“Heavens no. We go wherever want to go and we are just part of the community,” Mitchell said. “People are so kind it is an honor to be in the position we are in and to have people say positive things about us and our program. (My wife) Jenna and I have not let up one bit. We just live our lives and appreciate the people of Lexington for letting us be part of the community.

“Lexington is a small town and great community. We don’t mind people knowing us when we go to a movie. We probably go out to eat too much and spend too much money doing that. But we love being part of this community and having people excited about our program.”

Kentucky signee Makayla Epps has impressed Casey County coach Randy Salyers with the way she has improved her shot. Salyers says she’s always seen the floor well and had exceptional strength. (Mike Marsee photo)

Kentucky signee Makayla Epps has impressed Casey County coach Randy Salyers with the way she has improved her shot. Salyers says she’s always seen the floor well and had exceptional strength. (Mike Marsee photo)

By MIKE MARSEE, The Advocate-Messenger

Makayla Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers have discovered they’re much more popular now that they’re going to Kentucky. Of course, popularity had nothing to do with the two Marion County stars’ decisions to decommit from Louisville, then commit and ultimately sign last month with Kentucky.

But since they completed their switch from red to blue, they have learned through personal and social media interactions something of what it means to be the object of Kentucky fans’ affection.

“There’s a lot of Kentucky fans out there and a lot of Louisville fans out there, but Kentucky fans, man, they just treat you like royalty,” Epps said. “Everybody knows that you’re going to Kentucky, and when somebody finds out that you’re going to Kentucky, they’ll let it be known that they know, They show you love, they show you support, they’ll come watch you play, they congratulate you on signing and all that.”

Goodin-Rogers said the biggest change she has seen in people since changing her mind has been on Twitter.

“Nothing’s changed, really, but my Twitter timeline, there’s always something new on there posted, and I never know what it’s going to be,” Goodin-Rogers said.

The two girls said some tweets come from supportive Kentucky fans, and some come from Louisville fans who are, well, less than supportive, saying things like:

— “Just the fact that coach Mitchell stole us,” Epps said with a chuckle.

—  “And the stuff I’ve seen about how next year when we get there Louisville’s going to kill us,” Goodin-Rogers added. “How they said, ‘almost a bird but now a cat,’ or something like that.”

That remains to be seen, but no matter how those Kentucky-Louisville battles play out, Goodin-Rogers and Epps said they’re looking forward to getting to Lexington — after they take care of some unfinished business at Marion.

Their team made it all the way to the finals of the Girls Sweet Sixteen last season before suffering a heartbreaking four-point loss to duPont Manual in the state championship game. With five experienced starters leading a talent-rich team that was No. 1 in the preseason rankings, they’re determined to do everything they can to seize the title that was within their reach last year.

“This team here, we’ve got a lot of experience. Our five starters all played in the state (finals) last year, and (coach Trent) Milby expects certain things from all five of us,” Epps said. “So we know what it takes to get there, and we know what it takes to win, so our goal is to go 39-0, undefeated, and get there, get back and win it.”

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers has already gotten a taste of the Kentucky fanbase after committing to sign with the Cats last month. (Mike Marsee photo)

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers has already gotten a taste of the Kentucky fanbase after committing to sign with the Cats last month. (Mike Marsee photo)

The two girls said they’re glad the recruiting process is behind them.

“Now that we’ve signed, that part’s over with so that’s no more stress. We know that’s where we’ll be at next year, and now we’re just trying to enjoy our senior season,” Epps said.

Both Epps, the daughter of former Kentucky star Anthony Epps, and Goodin-Rogers, the daughter of former Louisville star Tick Rogers, committed to Louisville in 2011, prior to their junior season. However, both girls decommitted in June 2012, and in August they made verbal commitments to Kentucky within about a week of each other. They signed during the early signing period last month, becoming part of a Kentucky recruiting class ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Epps, a 5-foot-11 guard, averaged a team-high 17.2 points and shot 49.7 percent from the field last season. Goodin-Rogers, a 6-1 forward, averaged 13.4 points and a team-best 9.1 rebounds.

Randy Salyers, the Casey County coach whose team has played Marion in three of the last four seasons, got a good look at both girls last week when the Knights defeated Casey 72-35 in Liberty, and he said both girls have improved since he last saw them at the state tournament.

“The biggest thing that those two kids have improved in the last two years, one is Epps has improved her outside shot, and I think what Goodin-Rogers did is improve her strength,” Salyers said. “Goodin-Rogers has been a decent outside shooter and a pretty smart kid, and she just needed to get stronger, and she’s done that. Now Epps, on the other side, was always a strong kid, and she sees the floor well, and she just needed that one thing, which is the outside shot, and she looks like she’s improved that.”


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