Right Team. Right Place. Right Now.
The motto for Kentucky this season could've been written for its three seniors.
Not a single one of them — not Amber Smith, not Keyla Snowden, not Crystal Riley — originally was supposed to be playing at UK this season.
Snowden and Riley started their college careers at different schools and transferred in at a time when the Cats were struggling to get commitments.
Smith was supposed to celebrate her Senior Night last season with two of her best friends, but she returned this season after a knee injury derailed those plans.
But as each of them crosses the Memorial Coliseum court into the arms of Coach Matthew Mitchell on Thursday night, she'll know that she's ended up where she was supposed to be.
"We were a senior class that wasn't meant to be together," said Smith, the fiery point guard who has battled back from not one, but two torn-up knees. "But sometimes when things are unexpected, that's when they're the best."
Snowden and Riley said they couldn't have said it better themselves.
"It's really amazing how things work out," said Snowden, a former state champion at Lexington Catholic. "I've always believed things happen for a reason. It's just really fortunate that we all ended up here at this time and this place. We all have very different stories."
But the unifying story line is that they wanted to be at Kentucky, to rebuild Kentucky, Mitchell said on Wednesday as his 13th-ranked Cats prepare to take on South Carolina in a game that UK must win to remain in the hunt for the school's first Southeastern Conference title in 30 years.
"We'd love to get a win and send the seniors off right," he said. UK has won six of its last eight games on Senior Night, including a last-second win over Arkansas last season.
Mitchell is especially grateful to Riley, who transferred in from Louisiana State, and Snowden, who came back home after a season at Akron.
"Those two that transferred in when we didn't have a class are real close to my heart," he said.
Mainly because this was the class that almost wasn't a class at UK.
"This was the recruiting class that we were having a hard time with," Mitchell said. "We couldn't convince anybody that I thought we needed to convince to come here. ... We were real fortunate that Kentucky was the place they decided to come."
All three players have had their share of trials and tribulations while at Kentucky. Smith has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in each knee. Snowden tore her ACL before she even got on the floor for UK, while sitting out her transfer season.
Riley missed several games early this season with a stress reaction in her foot.
All three have had various nagging injuries as well, but they've tried to stay unified.
"It's been an awesome experience to play with Keyla and Crystal," Smith said. "I'd want (fans) to remember us as a strong group that fought through injuries and adversity and always was willing to sacrifice for Kentucky."
Snowden had a similar vision for what she wanted fans to remember about this class.
"We've been through a whole lot since we've been here," Snowden said. "I hope people see us as a group who persevered, who held up through adversity. I'd want them to think of us as fighters."
And it hasn't always been a comfortable fight, physically or mentally.
"All of us have had to step out of our comfort zone at some point during our years here," Riley said.
And even though this senior class of Riley, Smith and Snowden is UK's accidental class, they are happy they got to this place.
If they hadn't been at UK right now, they wouldn't be playing for an SEC title and maybe even a chance at a national title.
The three players say all of the factors are a constant reminder that they're in the right place, right now.
"We set goals at the beginning of the year and those are all still attainable," Snowden said. "We want an SEC championship, we want an SEC Tournament championship, we want an NCAA Tournament championship and all of three of those things are still attainable."