There's a part of Makayla Epps that has missed being a point guard.
Daughter of famed Kentucky point guard Anthony Epps, the sophomore was sort of born to be a point guard.
When she arrived at Kentucky, her size and versatility made her a player whom Coach Matthew Mitchell could move around.
She's played four different positions since arriving on campus. Sometimes, she plays four different positions in a single game.
Starting Thursday, when the No. 10 Cats face Florida in Memorial Coliseum, Epps will be back in her comfort zone, running UK's offense now that junior Janee Thompson is out for the season with a leg injury.
"That's what I've naturally been my whole life," she said of the point guard spot. "It's going to feel like a coming home type of thing. I'm excited to get it started; I'm grateful for the opportunity."
This is not the way Epps wanted to get that opportunity, though.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore from Marion County was reduced to tears at South Carolina as Thompson was carted off on a stretcher after an on-court collision.
But watching Thompson run the team for the past two seasons has given Epps a good blueprint, she said.
"I'm going to do everything I can to get the team going just like Janee had us going," Epps said Wednesday. "I want to be able to do everything she did for the team. I want to be exactly that type of leader ... I want to follow in those exact footsteps. I can't have a letdown."
The job is not going to fall completely on Epps, Mitchell said. She will have some help from Jennifer O'Neill, who played point guard two seasons ago before moving to the off-guard spot.
Even Linnae Harper and Bria Goss, who has been cleared to return from a broken thumb, can play some minutes at the point.
Epps has drawn her coach's ire for not always having razor sharp focus in games, but Mitchell thinks getting her to concentrate on this one position could be good for that.
"This could be a great thing for her," Mitchell said. "She can get really locked in on the point guard position and can maybe fill in sometimes here and there when Jen is at the point, but Makayla needs to become our point guard."
Epps is UK's second-leading scorer, averaging 12.8 points a game, and is second on the team in assists with 50. She leads the Southeastern Conference in assist/turnover ratio in league games.
Epps said she's spent the past two seasons sometimes wondering whether she's doing the right things on the wing, sometimes struggling to not overthink things.
But being at the point position changes things.
"I never second-guess anything when I'm at that position," Epps said. "The first thing that comes to mind, I go with it. Playing the four, I'm real hesitant about what I'm going to do, and the wings, too, sometimes I don't always know.
"But at point guard, you're a floor general, a leader. That comes natural to me. I feel like I'm going to have some great success for the team, hopefully starting tomorrow night against Florida and for the rest of the season."
Florida (9-8, 1-3) will be a tough first test for a UK team that will be trying to regroup after losing its floor leader. The Cats lost both of their regular-season games against the Gators last season, including a 10-point loss in Memorial Coliseum.
When Goss went down with her thumb injury, Kentucky had a letdown at Duke, especially defensively without the Cats' best on-ball defender.
UK can't afford to have that kind of letdown again, its coach and players said.
"This is just a really tough league, and there are no breaks," said Mitchell, whose team travels to Louisiana State on Sunday. "You just have to battle forward.
"You can't hang your head and look backward and figure out why did it happen, and feeling sorry for yourself. We really have to march forward, and that's what you have to do in life, also. It's a great opportunity for us to step up to a great challenge and meet it."