WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

UK Hoops ranked top-15 in preseason polls

On the heels of a record-breaking season, the Kentucky women’s basketball team has earned top-15 preseason rankings by Sporting News Magazine, Athlon Sports Magazine and Lindy’s Basketball Annual, which were released recently.

The Wildcats, whose remarkable season included an NCAA Elite Eight appearance, the most wins (28) in program history, a school-record 11 Southeastern Conference victories and the highest conference finish (second) in 28 years, are ranked No. 9 by Lindy's, No. 11 by Athlon Sports and No. 12 by Sporting News.

Kentucky finished 28-8 overall, 11-5 in SEC play in 2009-10, and advanced to the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament after defeating Liberty, No. 24/25 Michigan State and No. 4/4 Nebraska. The Cats’ run to the Final Four ended with a loss to No. 12/12 Oklahoma.

One of the main cogs last season was senior Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.). The 6-foot-1 forward was named a State Farm/WBCA and first-team Associated Press All-American while earning the school’s first SEC Player of the Year honor. She averaged a career-best 18.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per game and was the only player to rank among the league’s top three in scoring and rebounding. She also set UK records for blocks (66), blocks per game (1.90) and steals (107) in a single season. Because of her stellar play, Dunlap was named a first-team preseason All-America choice this season by Sporting New,s while Athlon and Lindy’s chose Dunlap as a second-team selection.

UK head coach Matthew Mitchell, named the 2010 AP and SEC Coach of the Year, welcomes back seven letterwinners, including the top three scorers in Dunlap, sophomore guard and last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.), and junior sharp-shooting guard Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.). Senior point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury during a pickup game in late July. Additional returning letterwinners are Crystal Riley (Memphis, Tenn.), Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Brittany Henderson (Pasadena, Calif.). Adding depth to the backcourt is redshirt freshman Bernisha Pinkett (Washington, D.C.), who will see her first action in 2010-11 after enrolling at UK last January.

UK welcomes five incoming freshmen to the squad this year. Kentucky's top-10 recruiting class of Sarah Beth Barnette (Lexington, Ky.), Maegan Conwright (Arlington, Texas), Samantha Drake (Bardstown, Ky.), Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) and Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) featured the Wildcats’ first McDonald’s All-America selection (O’Neill) and three state players of the year from Connecticut (Evans), Kentucky (Barnette) and Texas (Conwright).

The first opportunity to see the 2010-11 UK Hoops team is Oct. 15 at Big Blue Madness in Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. ET. After an exhibition game vs. Kentucky Wesleyan on Nov. 7, the Cats will begin regular-season play at home on Nov. 12 against Morehead State. The game will tip off at 11 a.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum as the nation’s first women’s basketball game of the season.

1. Connecticut

2. Baylor

3. Stanford

4. Tennessee

5. Xavier

6. Duke

7. Oklahoma

8. Ohio State


10. Texas A&M

11. Notre Dame

12. Georgetown

13. St. John’s

14. North Carolina

15. Texas

16. UCLA

17. West Virginia

18. Georgia

19. Iowa

20. N.C. State

21. Florida State

22. Dayton

23. Michigan State

24. TCU

25. California

1. Connecticut

2. Stanford

3. Tennessee

4. Baylor

5. Ohio State

6. Xavier

7. Texas A&M

8. Duke

9. West Virginia

10. Maryland


12. Georgetown

13. UCLA

14. Notre Dame

15. St. John’s

16. Oklahoma

17. Bowling Green

18. Iowa State

19. Florida State

20. Georgia

21. Texas

22. Virginia

23. Vanderbilt

24. LSU

25. Nebraska

1. Connecticut

2. Baylor

3. Stanford

4. Xavier

5. Tennessee

6. Duke

7. Ohio State

8. Notre Dame

9. West Virginia

10. Oklahoma

11. North Carolina


13. Georgetown

14. St. John’s

15. Texas A&M

16. Georgia Tech

17. Iowa State

18. Georgia

19. Texas

20. UCLA

21. Florida State

22. Temple

23. TCU

24. Michigan State

25. Rutgers


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