LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the third consecutive season, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team is ranked in the preseason USA TODAY/ESPN coaches’ poll. The Wildcats were picked to start the 2012-13 season at No. 7 by the 31-member Board of Coaches, the highest ranking in school history. The previous high was No. 10 in 2010-11.
UK returns 10 letterwinners and four starters from a team that went 28-7 overall last season, including a school-record 13 Southeastern Conference victories. The Wildcats won their first SEC regular season championship in 30 years and advanced to their second Elite Eight in the last three seasons.
Returnees include preseason SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.), All-SEC second team selection Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) and 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year Bria Goss (Indianapolis). Kentucky also welcomes three newcomers in transfers DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) from California and Jelleah Sidney (Queens Village, N.Y.) from Chipola Junior College, along with lone freshman point guard Janee Thompson (Chicago). Thompson is one of five McDonald’s All-Americans on the team this season, the most in program history.
Baylor was ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll, followed by Connecticut, Duke, Stanford and Maryland, respectively. UK was one of five SEC schools ranked in the top 25, along with Georgia (No. 11), Texas A&M (No. 12), Tennessee (No. 16), Vanderbilt (No. 17). Other Kentucky opponents in the coaches’ poll are Baylor (No. 1) and Louisville (No. 9).