Rebecca Gray is looking for "ultimate happiness" and is confident she will find it at Union College, where she has decided to finish her college basketball career.
Gray, Kentucky's 2007 Miss Basketball from Scott County, announced her departure from the University of Kentucky through a news release Wednesday morning.
The timing of the transfer seemed odd given that UK was preparing to sign a player that would have put the Cats over their 15-player scholarship limit, but Gray said that was a coincidence.
The 5-foot-11 guard, who transferred to UK from North Carolina after one season, said she had dozens of Facebook and text messages asking if she was forced out.
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But she said that wasn't the case.
"This was definitely my decision," Gray said. "I was not asked to leave at all. Actually, everyone was pretty shocked by my decision." Gray said of the move to Union, where she will be able to live out her dream of playing basketball and golf at the college level.
"This will give me the time and opportunity to relax and enjoy both sports," she said. "I'm looking for ultimate happiness in the end. I'm really excited to go to Union, where I think I can find that."
Gray will finish what is left of this semester at UK, where she averaged 5.2 points in 19.1 minutes a game.
She played in 33 of 36 games for UK this season and was the team's second-leading three-pointer shooter, hitting 34.9 percent from outside.
The guard said it was a tough decision to leave a school she has loved since she was born and teammates she adores.
"I'm always going to bleed blue," she said. "I'm never going to stop being a UK fan. It was a really tough decision because of the staff and players, who have been like family to me. It was definitely tough, but like I said, I'm just looking out for my total happiness, which I'll have at Union."
Union's roster is made up almost exclusively of Kentucky players. On this season's roster, only two players weren't from the Commonwealth. The Bulldogs went 22-10 last season.
In the UK release, Coach Matthew Mitchell said he is "saddened" by Gray's departure.
"I thank her for all of her contributions to the program," he said. "We wish her the very best moving forward."
Playing time at the guard positions could be difficult to come by next season with six returning backcourt players, including all three starters, as well as the addition of five new players, who could all see time at the guard spots.
Drake signs letter
Samantha Drake, a 6-3 standout from Nelson County, sent in her paperwork and her signed letter of intent to play for Kentucky next season.
The post player, who owns the Nelson County scoring record (for girls or boys) with 3,068 points, will round out a class that includes four players rated among the nation's top 70.
"She's an extremely talented player who will have the opportunity to impact our team in a positive way," Mitchell said. "Samantha rounds out a recruiting class that will be well suited for our style of play."
Drake, who chose Kentucky over Michigan State and Georgia, is the 49th-best player in the country, according to the BlueStar Basketball, which now rates UK's recruiting class as No. 5 in the nation. It's the highest ranking ever for a UK class.
The senior, who committed to the Cats as a sophomore only to pull back this past fall before ultimately deciding to go back with UK, is the only true post player from the six-member signing class.