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King set to shine in final year in UK – Harlan Enterprise

King set to shine in UK final year

Posted at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 30, 2022

She’s played 46 career games, but Kentucky senior Emma King says it’s “crazy” how fast her basketball career has gone, and she feels like it’s been a whirlwind”.

“It was such a fun time to be able to be a part of amazing things here. It’s truly a blessing,” said King, a three-star prospect from Lincoln County, Ky., who chose the UK over Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville and Dayton.

There’s a big change for King: there’s no Rhyne Howard on the team this year. Howard is a three-time All-American and was recently named WNBA Rookie of the Year. She was the UK’s top scorer and playmaker for three seasons.

“Not having Rhyne just gives others the opportunity to step in and prove themselves,” King said. “We always knew we could count on Rhyne, and she was such an important part of the program that we could count on her. If it went wrong, it was like, ‘Okay, we’ve got Rhyne.’

“Now we have to see who is going to step in and make plays when we face adversity. It’s going to be interesting. We have 15 players and 10 are new – six freshmen and four transfers. Coach (Kyra ) Elzy is doing a good job of slowing things down. Only five of us have played together, and it’s been a big adjustment in terms of who brings what to the team.

King played 26 games last season and started twice. She was a prolific 3-point shooter in high school, but was just 3-for-32 from long range last year – an area that Elzy is confident will improve dramatically this year.

King has been equally focused on being a more vocal leader, which doesn’t come easily to her.

“I have always tried to lead by example. It comes more naturally to me,” King said. “Coach Elzy wants me to be more vocal. I had to step up. I’ve always been someone who encourages others, but now I have to break things down for younger players.

She has plenty of help from fifth-year senior Blair Green – “she’s been my girlfriend since I’ve been here” – who missed last season after rupturing his Achilles tendon during pre-training. season.

“I am thrilled to speak with her again. She has worked so hard. I have nothing but respect and praise for her. She had one of the injuries with the longest recovery, but she never recovered. never let down. She’s invested in it and I can’t wait to see the results of what she’s going to do this year,” King said.

King knows everyone may have to make concessions due to the depth and talent of this year’s team.

“It’s important that we all stay true to who we are as players,” King said. “We have so much diversity in what each player brings to the team. We have so many players that they really think come first.

“It’s not something I’ve experienced much in college basketball. It’s their first thought. What’s the right pass to do? We’ve got 15 players who believe that.

Kentucky rode an incredible run to win its first Southeastern Conference tournament championship last season — its first tournament title since 1982. The Cats beat No. 1 South Carolina, the eventual national champion , in the SEC title game.

“After beating LSU (in the semifinals), there was no doubt in our mind that we were going to win. No one could tell us we weren’t going to beat South Carolina,” King said. At the start of this season we heard, ‘You won the SEC tournament, and now you have a target on your back’, but others say we’ve lost everyone on the team and we we won’t do half of what we did last year. .

“Our mindset is that we are still Kentucky basketball. Yes, it’s a new team, but we want to find a way to do it again. Everyone came here to win.

King was impressed with the 10 newcomers, but Maddie Scherr — two-time Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year at Ryle High School and Oregon Transfer — really impressed King.

“Kentucky fans are going to love Maddie Scherr so much. The way she plays and what she brings to this team is going to be special,” King said. “We played her our senior year (of high school) when Ryle won the state championship, so I knew she was already a very good player.”

Kentucky opens the season Nov. 7 and plays four straight home games before playing in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship in Nassau. The Cats will face Virginia Tech and Dayton in the Bahamas.

“Since our four-year overseas trip was called, we’ve been getting more of an extended stay, and I think we’ll be there for six days. We play two games, and then Thanksgiving will be our fun day. We are all looking forward to this.