UK Women's Basketball

Big names with big rankings dot UK women’s guest list for Big Blue Madness

Matthew Mitchell’s dance at Big Blue Madness 2017

UK women's basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell performs his dance routine at the 2017 Big Blue Madness event in Rupp Arena.
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UK women's basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell performs his dance routine at the 2017 Big Blue Madness event in Rupp Arena.

The Kentucky women could have more than three dozen players on unofficial visits in Rupp Arena on Friday night for Big Blue Madness, including several rated among the top 25 nationally.

The official visit guest list for Matthew Mitchell and the Cats is pretty exclusive, too.

It includes 2019 commitment Emma King, a standout from Lincoln County, as well as a top-60 player in the country in Zakiyah Franklin, a 5-foot-7 point guard.

Franklin, who is rated No. 60 in the country by ESPN and as the No. 14 point guard nationally, is from Winter Haven High School, home of a former UK point guard now on the Cats coaching staff in Amber Smith.

ESPN’s player evaluations note that Franklin is an athletic left-handed combination guard who bumps with defenders and finishes with consistency.

Franklin, who has reported offers from West Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, Rutgers and Cincinnati, averaged 14.6 points while helping the Blue Devils win their third straight state championship.

One evaluation from the North Tartan Summer Jam in June notes that Franklin is “perhaps the best guard in the country at attacking the basket” in the 2019 class, calling her an aggressive defender, who traps well and converts off turnovers.

King, a 5-foot-11 wing player, is one of two Cats commitments for 2019. Last season, King averaged 20.6 points, including hitting 60 three-pointers for Lincoln County.

Mitchell and his staff recently picked up Deasia Merrill, a 6-foot-2 forward from Villa Rica, Ga. The top 100 commitment averaged 16.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.3 blocks a game last season as a junior.

There are quite a few big names expected to be in Rupp on unofficial visits like class of 2020’s Kamilla Cardoso, a 6-foot-6 post player from Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., who is ranked as the eighth-best player in the country and the No. 2 center overall by ESPN. Her Hamilton Heights teammate, 5-foot-11 wing Treasure Hunt, also is expected to be here. Hunt is rated nationally by ESPN as the No. 28 player overall and third-best at her position.

One of the Cats’ top targets, Maddie Scherr, a 5-foot-11 star guard from Ryle, is expected to be in attendance. Scherr is the No. 25 player in the country, according to ESPN’s ratings, and the No. 5 player at her position nationally.

Rated a top 10 guard nationally in the 2020 class and the No. 50 player overall, Madison Hayes likely will be at Big Blue Madness. The 5-foot-10 guard plays for East Hamilton High School in Tennessee.

The 2021 class unofficial visitors include two rated among ESPN’s top 20 overall and three that are top 10 in their respective position groups nationally in Aaliya Moore, a 6-foot-1 forward from Moore High School in Oklahoma, who is rated No. 9 overall; No. 18 Greta Kampschroeder, a 6-foot guard from Naperville North in Illinois, as well as Raven Johnson, a 5-foot-6 standout from Westlake High School out of Atlanta, whom ESPN rates as the eighth-best point guard in the class.

Kentucky already has a commitment from 2022 guard Cassidy Rowe of Shelby Valley, who is expected to be at the festivities on Friday night in Rupp Arena as well.