Makayla Epps Named to Naismith Trophy Watch List

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky women’s basketball junior guard Makayla Epps has been named to the 2015-16 Naismith Trophy Women’s College Player of the Year Early Season Watch List, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Thursday.

The 50-player watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2015-2016 college basketball season. The Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year presented by AT&T will be awarded on April 4, 2016, in Indianapolis.

The Wildcats have had at least one player on the Watch List 50 for six consecutive seasons, dating back to the 2010-11 season when the duo of Victoria Dunlap and A’dia Mathies earned the distinction.  Mathies was also named to the watch list in 2011-12 and 2012-13, while DeNesha Stallworth was the team’s representative in 2013-14 and Jennifer O’Neill had the honor in 2014-15.

Epps currently leads the No. 8/8 Wildcats in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per contest and dishing out an average of 7.2 assists per game, which ranks seventh in the nation.  Epps also holds the 13th-best assist to turnover ratio in the NCAA, with 43 helpers and 12 turnovers for a ratio of 3.58.  The Lebanon, Ky. native is one of just seven players in the NCAA this year to have recorded a triple-double, and is just the second Wildcat in program history to accomplish the feat.  Epps had a tremendous game against Morehead State on Nov. 18, pouring in 21 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out 12 assists.  It was the first triple-double since Leslie Nichols’ 18-point, 13-rebound, 11-steal effort on Feb. 14, 1986, and was also the first time that a Wildcat had 12 or more assists in a game since Dec. 1, 1993.

A preseason All-SEC First Team selection, Epps has scored 758 points during her 74 games donning the Blue and White.  If she continues to score at her current rate, Epps is on pace to become the 30th member of the UK 1,000-point club by the end of the season.

Epps is one of nine players on the list from the Southeastern Conference.  Joining her are Alaina Coates (South Carolina), Diamond DeShields (Tennessee), Bashaara Graves (Tennessee), Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina), Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State), Courtney Walker (Texas A&M), Courtney Williams (Texas A&M) and A’Ja Wilson (South Carolina).  

The watch list will be narrowed to 30 candidates on February 10, 2016.  From there, the field will be cut to 10 semifinalists on March 3.  The four finalists will be announced on March 18, and the Naismith Trophy Women’s College Player of the Year will be announced during the NCAA Women’s Final Four on April 4.  The winner is determined by a board of selectors in conjunction with fan voting.

UK returns to the court tonight, taking on in-state rival Louisville in a “Pack the House” game in Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. ET.  The game will be one of two games this season inside the historic downtown building.  The first 10,000 fans will receive a free roll-out banner, available at all the entrance gates at Rupp Arena.

Single-game tickets are available online through Ticketmaster at $9 for lower-level reserved seats and $8 for upper-level general admission.  Senior citizen (65+) and youth (6-18) tickets are available for $5 while children age five and under will be admitted free (based on availability) in upper-level general admission. In lower-level reserved seating, all patrons require a ticket regardless of age. UK faculty and staff can receive up to four complimentary tickets for the game if purchased in advance at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office with valid employee ID.

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.