Jen Smith on Basketball

Kentucky women finalize roster with two additional walk-ons

Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell’s roster was decimated by defections in the offseason, but he’ll start 2016-17 with 12 players, one of whom will sit out the season as a transfer.
Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell’s roster was decimated by defections in the offseason, but he’ll start 2016-17 with 12 players, one of whom will sit out the season as a transfer. Mark Cornelison

Matthew Mitchell has completed this season’s Kentucky roster by adding two more walk-ons in Paige Poffenberger and LaShae Halsel.

The coach also announced that he was awarding a scholarship to Jessica Hardin, one of the players who walked on earlier this year. The former Wayne County standout transferred to UK from Bellarmine.

“Every year we look to improve our team by adding quality young women that are already on campus, and this year we were able to do that with the additions of Paige and LaShae,” Mitchell said.

“They’ve been working out with the team for a few weeks and our staff has been impressed with how they have approached every day and been coachable.”

The two new additions bring Kentucky to 12 players for this season, including nine scholarship players, although one is sitting out per NCAA transfer rules.

The Cats had to supplement the roster this season after a rash of departures last season that included seven defections (five transfers, one graduate transfer and a dismissal). The attrition also included all three assistant coaches, one who was fired and two who took other positions, as well as several key members of the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes.

Poffenberger, a 5-foot-8 guard from Morgantown, W.Va., will be a true freshman for the Wildcats in 2016-17, while former Warren Central forward Halsel will be a sophomore. Halsel, a 6-foot forward, was part of an open tryout the Cats had this summer.

Both players enrolled at UK after high school and are on academic scholarships.

During the summer, the Wildcats added Hardin, who started her collegiate career at Bellarmine before transferring to Kentucky in 2014, and Rachel Potter, a standout high school player from Pikeville.

Poffenberger helped the Morgantown Mohigans to three straight state championships. As a senior, she averaged 9.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.8 steals per game while hitting 40 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three-point range.

Halsel was a five-year starter at Warren Central and averaged nearly a double-double her last two seasons with the Dragons. She also lettered multiple seasons in track and field, competing in the high jump and the long jump as well as on several relay teams.

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader

UK women’s basketball roster

No.

Player

Pos.

Ht.

Yr.

0

LaShae Halsel

G

6-0

So.

4

Maci Morris

G

6-0

So.

11

Rachel Potter

G

5-11

Jr.

13

Evelyn Akhator

F/C

6-3

Sr.

15

Jessica Hardin

G

5-8

Sr.

20

Paige Poffenberger

G

5-8

Fr.

21

Ogechi Anyagaligbo-x

F

6-1

So.

22

Makenzie Cann

G

6-0

Jr.

24

Taylor Murray

G

5-6

So.

25

Makayla Epps

G

5-10

Sr.

32

Jaida Roper

G

5-6

Fr.

45

Alyssa Rice

C

6-3

Jr.

x-Transfer: Will sit out 2016-17 season.

Important upcoming dates

Oct. 14: Big Blue Madness

Nov. 3: Exhibition vs. Union (Tenn.)

Nov. 11: Season opener vs. Miami, Fla.

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