While everybody usually has their eye on recruiting, most of the attention is usually focused on what John Calipari is doing. Tonight, we turn our attention to what Matthew Mitchell has been quietly doing.
This past weekend, Linnae Harper announced her decision to commit to play for UK Hoops next season. Harper is not only a top 10 recruit for Matthew Mitchell but the 5th best player in the nation according to the ESPNU100 HoopGurlz recruiting rankings.
There’s been quite a few McDonald’s All-Americans that Coach Mitchell has signed since coming to Kentucky in 2007, including two that transferred to Kentucky in recent years. DeNesha Stallworth (2009 – transferred from Cal), Jennifer O’Neill (2010), Samarie Walker (2010 – transferred from UConn), Bria Goss (2011), and Janee Thompson (2012). That’s three straight years in which a UK Hoops recruit was named a McDonald’s All-American. With Harper, it should make four straight years in a row. O’Neil was the first such recruit in program history.
Both Epps and Goodin-Rogers attend Marion County High School (Marion County, Kentucky) while Harper is a shooting guard at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, Illinois.
I spoke to Brandon Clay, a a HoopGurlz recruiting analyst for ESPN and owner of Peach State Basketball, to see what UK Hoops is getting in the three players.
“She is and is arguably the best rebounder in the class regardless of position,” Brandon Clay said about Harper in an email. “An absolute terror on the boards.”
Clay added that she is a “left handed guard who makes plays on both ends of the floor” and “will be a real treat for Big Blue Nation.”
Clay talked about the incoming class for his recent week in review at Peach State Basketball. He wrote that signing a player like Harper will give UK Hoops “the gun they needed for the inevitable shootout in March’s to come.” There’s a video on the page, too, that I encourage UK Hoops fans to watch.
Whitney Young coach Corry Carter also sang Harper’s praises.
“I think Linnae will bring to Kentucky two important aspects of the game, one is her relentless desire to rebound and the second is her ability to do whatever it takes for her team to win, whether that is score, pass, rebound or defend,” Carter said in an email.
Makayla Epps, if readers recall, originally planned to attend the University of Louisville before re-opening her commitment and decided to attend the University of Kentucky, the alma mater of her father, Anthony Epps.
“Dynamic guard whose presence on the ball along with current Wildcat Janee Thompson means Big Blue Nation is in great shape at the point guard position,” Clay said. “She’s skilled with the basketball in her hands and has plenty of confidence on the offensive end. She’s grown immensely over the past twelve months as a player showing that she can knock down the open jumper as well.”
Marion County coach Trent Milby told me that “Makayla will bring a TRUE POINT GUARD with HIGH IQ to the team.”
The coach added that Epps is a “very smart basketball player that does not turn the ball over.” He described Epps as a “PERFECT Point guard” and that she can “also can shoot the ball and will be able to play the 1,2 and 3 positions.”
Goodin-Rogers is the third recruit in that class that has committed to playing for Coach Mitchell and UK Hoops.
“Love her size and skill package,” Clay said. “She is willing to rebound and defend then can turnaround on the other end of the floor to make the open trail 3-pointer. Her versatility will allow Matt Mitchell to play her either at the top or the back of the press.”
“Kyvin will bring versatility to the team with her 3 point shot and the ability to drive to the basket,” Milby said of the forward. “A great rebounder that is tough nosed that will be able to play both the 3 and 4 positions. (She) May even be able to play some 5.”
With two seniors on the current squad, I don’t see next year’s incoming class growing but with Matthew Mitchell at the helm, UK Hoops will be fun to watch for some time.