UK women's newest commitment stands tall, moves like a guard

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 20, 2013 

When Alabama's Sparkman High School is in its full-court press, Alexis Jennings is at the top of it.

Even at 6-foot-2 she shuffles her feet and hounds much smaller guards, obscuring their views with her outstretched arms.

"We were a little worried about her running out of gas," Jennings' Sparkman Coach Patrick Delay told the Huntsville (Ala.) Times newspaper. "But once we put her out there, from the beginning, she was just too good to take off the ball."

Seeing that made Kentucky's Matthew Mitchell start pursuing the No. 9 post player in the country. He landed Jennings on Friday.

"I think that's why he wanted her so bad," Delay said of seeing her on defense. "He saw how athletic she was and her long arms can cause havoc up there."

Jennings' havoc doesn't end with her pressure defense.

Said Delay: "She can shoot the three; she can post up with her back to the basket; she can run the floor, she can rebound, she's relentless on the offensive glass. There's not a whole lot to not like."

Jennings, ranked No. 35 by the All-Star Girls Report recruiting service and No. 64 overall by ESPN, had offers from around the Southeastern Conference and picked the Cats over schools such as Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Florida State.

"She pretty much could've gone just about anywhere," Delay said of his star, who helped lead the Senators to a 33-1 record as a junior last season, averaging 22.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 3.2 steals.

"She was also offered by Louisville — actually, her granddad is a graduate of Louisville and a big Louisville fan," Delay said. "But he said he'd be proud to wear that blue."

Jennings fills a key need for Kentucky, becoming its second commitment for the 2014 class, joining three-star forward Jaycee Coe from Tennessee.

The Cats lose five seniors off this year's team, including key post players DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker.

Jennings, who has been a starter since her freshman year, is more than just a star player, her high school coach said.

"She's a leader out there on the floor and in practice," Delay said. "She's got the kids coming in every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 6:15 to go through some individual workouts. She's just a fantastic kid."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com.

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