Several national pre-season polls have Kentucky in the top 20, but that might only be good enough to get the Cats to the middle of the road in the Southeastern Conference.
The women's basketball pre-season media poll released Tuesday has Kentucky picked to finish fifth behind South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
The Gamecocks, who won the regular-season conference and tournament championships last season, return their top three scorers and top two rebounders from last season. They are coming off the program’s first NCAA Tournament Final Four appearance.
South Carolina returns senior guard Tiffany Mitchell, whom the media overwhelmingly voted as the pre-season SEC Player of the Year, as well as star post players Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson.
All three were picked to be pre-season All-SEC in the voting, as was Makayla Epps, who led Kentucky in scoring last season.
Order of finish: 1. South Carolina; 2. Tennessee; 3. Mississippi State; 4. Texas A&M; 5. Kentucky; 6. Ole Miss; 7. Missouri; 8. Arkansas; T9. Georgia; T9. LSU; 11. Vanderbilt; 12. Florida; 13. Auburn; 14. Alabama.
Pre-season All-SEC: Makayla Epps, Kentucky; Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State; Alaina Coates, South Carolina; Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina; A’ja Wilson, South Carolina; Diamond DeShields, Tennessee
Player of the Year: Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina