Some players have scored more points or brought down more rebounds in the past few games, but none has drawn more praise from Kentucky's coach than Janee Thompson.
The junior point guard has shown up plenty in the box score, but it's the other roles she's taken on that have made Matthew Mitchell take notice.
"I get chill bumps just thinking about the progress that she's made," he said on Friday after Thompson managed her first career double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.
It was made all the more impressive to her coach considering how she started the day at Alabama, missing her first five shots before making her last five in the comeback victory to open league play.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of her for putting in the work to get to a game like this," he said.
For Thompson, the goal wasn't to score points or set a career mark for assists in Tuscaloosa. The goal was to get the No. 11 Cats to stop spinning their wheels and start advancing.
"I was just trying to get into the paint and make something happen," said the point guard from Chicago, who last year became the first UK player in five years to dish out 100-plus assists.
Her 10 assists on Friday were almost as many as UK was averaging going into the game against the Crimson Tide (11.8).
The game before that, Mitchell was praising Thompson for taking on another role as the Cats' key on-ball defender after defensive bulldog Bria Goss was forced to sit with a broken thumb.
The senior guard is expected to return this month, but coaches were hoping a secondary defender would emerge. Thompson answered that call with a career-best seven steals with zero fouls against Tennessee State last week.
"I hope a couple people may emerge and really get better right now defensively because they have to," Mitchell said last weekend. "Janee played an unbelievable game.
"Those are the kind of games we need while Bria's out to help us be stronger when Bria comes back."
Thompson has done all of this while playing 34-plus minutes a game in the past two games as UK has been short in the backcourt.
Kentucky is going to need its newest leader in even more ways than before on Sunday against Mississippi.
The Rebels, who have won five in a row, are coached by former Kentucky assistant Matt Insell, who has installed a familiar aggressive, in-your-face defense in Oxford that is forcing opponents to cough up the ball an average of 24.5 times a game.
They lead the Southeastern Conference in steals at 13.4 per game.
Kentucky's guards, led by Thompson, who is averaging 10.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and is second in steals at 1.9 a game, were the difference-makers in the Cats' comeback at Alabama.
The maturity of the UK backcourt is key, Tide Coach Kristy Curry said. "Their guard play looked so much more mature than ours at times," she said. "And that's just gonna take some time."
It took time for Thompson, but it's been worth the wait, her coach said on Friday.
"Janee along with her teammates turned it around and we're leaving here happy with a victory," he said. "She's playing good basketball right now and we need her to."