Epps, Akhator, Thompson Named AP All-SEC Performers
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky junior guard Makayla Epps, junior forward Evelyn Akhator and senior guard Janee Thompson have been named All-Southeastern Conference performers by the Associated Press, it was announced on Tuesday.
Epps was named to the first team, becoming the first player since A’dia Mathies in 2012 and 2013 to earn First Team All-SEC honors from the organization multiple years. Akhator, who was named to the All-SEC Second Team earlier this season by league coaches, earned the same honor from the AP, while Thompson was one of seven players to be named to the AP’s honorable mention team. Thompson was a Second Team All-SEC selection by league coaches.
Kentucky’s three selections are the most it has had in a single year by the AP since 2007 when Sara Elliot was named to the second team and Jennifer Humphrey and Samantha Mahoney were named honorable mention.
A member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Wade Trophy Watch List, Epps is having a great season for UK, leading Kentucky in scoring with 16.5 points per game. The native of Lebanon, Ky., is also averaging 4.5 assists per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. The junior has performed at her best on the biggest of stages, averaging 18.4 points per game and hitting .486 from the field this season in regular-season games against highly-ranked Arizona State, Louisville, Duke, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. In the SEC Tournament, Epps averaged 18.3 points per game with 5.3 rebounds per game to earn SEC All-Tournament Team honors.
Earlier this season, Epps become the 31st member of Kentucky’s 1,000 point club and currently ranks 24th all-time in points scored with 1,140. She was the third-fastest player under Mitchell to reach 1,000 points. Against Morehead State in November, Epps became the second player in program history to record a triple-double with 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. Epps has scored 20+ points nine times and has been in double digits 23 times.
In her first year with Kentucky, Akhator has been a key addition to the Wildcats' post presence, averaging 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season. The native of Lagos, Nigeria, has scored in double figures 21 times, while posting 10 or more rebounds in 14 games. Against No. 11 Texas A&M in the regular-season finale, Akhator scored 15 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds to earn SEC Player of the Week honors. In the SEC Tournament, Akhator averaged 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Akhator has 12 double-doubles on the season, including three double-doubles where she has recorded more rebounds than points. The junior transferred from Chipola Community College where she was the WBCA Junior/Community College National Player of the Year last season, and ranks 50th in the nation in rebounds per game and 52nd nationally in total rebounds. Akhator’s 12 double-doubles are tied for the most by any player in a single-season under Mitchell.
Thompson has saved her best season for last, averaging 12.6 points per game and 4.9 assists per game. The native of Chicago has scored in double figures 20 times, including 20+ points three times. Against highly-ranked Missouri on Senior Night, Thompson posted a career-high 24 points, including 12 points in the fourth quarter to power the Wildcats to victory. Thompson has recorded two assist-point double-doubles this season with 16 points and 10 assists against both Eastern Michigan and LSU. She is the first player to record two or more assist-point double-doubles in the same season since 1987-88.
The senior leader has six or more assists in 13 games this season, which are the most six-plus assist games in a season in the Mitchell era. Thompson is 52-for-126 from the 3-point line this year, which surpasses her career 3-pointers hit of 36 entering the season. The guard ranks 63rd nationally in total assists and 61st in the nation in assists per game.
Associated Press All-SEC First Team
A’ja Wilson, South Carolina
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Makayla Epps, Kentucky
Alaina Coates, South Carolina
Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State
Associated Press All-SEC Second Team
Jessica Jackson, Arkansas
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia
Ronni Williams, UF
Tra’Cee Tanner, Auburn
Bashaara Graves, Tennessee
Evelyn Akhator, Kentucky
Diamond DeShields, Tennessee
Associated Press All-SEC Honorable Mention
Sophie Cunningham, Missouri
Dominique Dillingham, Mississippi State
Jordan Frericks, Missouri
Tiaria Griffin, Georgia
Alexis Hyder, LSU
Janee Thompson, Kentucky
Courtney Williams, Texas A&M
Coach of the Year: Dawn Staley, South Carolina
Player of the Year: A’ja Wilson, South Carolina
Freshman of the Year: Sophie Cunningham, Missouri
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @UKHoopCats on Twitter and Instagram, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.