LEXINGTON, Ky. – The accolades continue flowing in for the Kentucky women’s basketball program as junior forward Victoria Dunlap and head coach Matthew Mitchell were chosen Southeastern Conference Player and Coach of the Year, respectively, by The Associated Press on Tuesday. Mitchell also was named Russell Athletic/WBCA Region 3 Coach of the Year.
Dunlap and Mitchell earned the same top honors from SEC coaches on March 2, prior to the league tournament in Duluth, Ga. Dunlap, a unanimous choice for the award, is UK’s first player to earn the distinction from AP while Mitchell joins former mentor Mickie DeMoss as the only UK coaches to receive the recognition.
Having just been selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, the UK Hoops program is enjoying one of its best seasons in program history. Kentucky (25-7) has tied the school record for wins, finished second in the SEC with a school-record 11 league victories and advanced the final round of the SEC Tournament for the first time since 1982.
The accomplishments highlight a remarkable turnaround for the Wildcats who entered the year picked to finish 11th in the SEC according to preseason media and coaches polls.
Dunlap, a native of Nashville, Tenn., averages 17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. She is the only SEC player to rank among the league’s top three players in scoring and rebounding. Dunlap ranks among the SEC’s top 10 in seven different statistical categories.
A standout defensive player, Dunlap ranks among the nation’s leaders in steals (14th -3.1) and blocks (34th - 2.1). Offensively, Dunlap has led the Wildcats in scoring 17 times, has posted eight double-doubles this season and score 20 or more points on 10 occasions.
With Mitchell’s Region 3 Coach of the Year honor, he now advances as a finalist to the national level of the selection process with the other Regional Coaches of the Year in their respective division. The winner of the Russell/WBCA National Coach of the Year for Division I will be honored Monday, April 5.
The Wildcats will make their first appearance at the NCAA Tournament since 2006 on Saturday when they play No. 13 seed Liberty in Louisville, Ky., at approximately 2:42 p.m. ET on ESPN2. UK earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, its highest seeding since 1983.