Deasia Merrill, one of only two true freshmen on this year’s University of Kentucky women’s basketball team, will have to sit out the 2019-20 season with a knee injury.
Merrill, a 6-foot-1 forward from Villa Rica, Ga., tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a workout last week, head coach Matthew Mitchell announced Wednesday.
Merrill was the Class 5A player of the year in Georgia last season. She was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.com, which ranked her the 66th best prospect and eighth best forward in the 2019 class.
“Deasia injured her knee on a very tough play in practice last week,” Mitchell said in a news release. “She was playing very hard, preparing for a successful season. Unfortunately, the injury is season-ending but Deasia has shown remarkable resilience since the injury.
“We are confident she will learn many valuable and character-strengthening lessons during this part of her journey. Our medical team is fantastic, and her teammates and her coaches will support her fully on her road to recovery.”
Merrill was a three-time Atlanta Journal-Constitution First-Team All-State performer. As a high school senior last season, she averaged 25.6 points, 15.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 5.2 steals and 4.2 blocks per game.
Kentucky’s only other true freshman this season is Emma King from Lincoln County High School.
The Wildcats boast a deep, veteran roster led by last season’s national freshman of the year Rhyne Howard and bolstered by the addition of several transfers.
In its most recent “way-too-early” preseason rankings posted last month, ESPN put Kentucky at No. 13 in the nation.
Kentucky’s players will be introduced as part of Friday night’s Big Blue Madness celebration in Rupp Arena. The team plays its lone exhibition game Oct. 30 vs. Southern Indiana in Memorial Coliseum before opening the regular season Nov. 5 at home against Mount St. Mary’s of Maryland.