On the eve of the Kentucky women’s basketball team’s season opener, Matthew Mitchell received some very good news.
Treasure Hunt — a 6-foot-1 wing from Chattanooga, Tenn. — announced her commitment to the Wildcats on Monday, joining UK’s class of 2020 and giving Mitchell one of the most celebrated recruits in his 12-year tenure as Kentucky’s coach.
Hunt came into the fall with several terrific options on her recruiting list, and — after official visits to South Carolina, Auburn and Baylor — she traveled to Lexington for last month’s Big Blue Madness.
“I think when she went to Kentucky she just felt at home,” her mother and coach, Keisha Hunt, told the Herald-Leader. “She really loves the coaches. She likes the style of ball. They’re a top-25 team, and she’s hoping to help them win a national championship.”
The Cats have advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished in the top 25 nationally in nine of the past 10 seasons under Mitchell, and UK is ranked No. 13 to start this season, a campaign that begins Tuesday night against Mount St. Mary’s in Memorial Coliseum.
That winning culture — and the hope for even greater things in the near future — was a major selling point in the Wildcats’ favor, but UK had more to offer Hunt as a college destination.
The Wildcats’ star player — last season’s national freshman of the year, Rhyne Howard — is close friends with Hunt. The two attended the same middle school and played on the same travel team — coached by Hunt’s mother — and the players’ moms have known each other longer than that.
Keisha Hunt said Howard and her mother are “like family,” and they found a welcoming vibe on their visit to Lexington.
“It was just a real family atmosphere,” Hunt said. “It had a really family feel. … The relationship that she saw that the players have with the coaches, that played a big part in it.”
Hunt joins power forward Nyah Leveretter and guard Erin Toller as the third member of UK’s 2020 class.
Mitchell has had plenty of success on the recruiting trail, but few of his commitments have been rated as highly as Hunt, who the All-Star Girls Report ranks as the No. 10 overall player in the 2020 class.
Hunt is a versatile player with a tremendous blend of size and skill, and she brings a winning track record that includes a championship run on the Under Armour circuit this past summer and two trips to the Geico National Tournament with her Hamilton Heights (Tenn.) team.
“There’s no reason Treasure can’t be a pro,” Bret McCormick of All-Star Girls Report told the Herald-Leader recently. “She’s already got a great body — great size — and she’s always been skilled. … She’s a matchup problem.”
Hunt’s mother said Mitchell envisions Treasure playing the “2” through “4” spots, depending on the situation, and that the star recruit has enjoyed her time talking basketball with Kentucky’s coach.
“She was really impressed with Coach Mitchell when she talked to him on the official visit,” Hunt said. “He showed her different sequences in their offense that he thinks she’ll really do well with. And then he also showed her some of her clips from travel ball of where she messed up on defense. … He talked about how he’s going to correct all that and give her the skills to be able to do it. And she was excited about that. Because she wants to continue getting better, and she feels that Coach Mitchell and Kentucky can help her do that.”
Mount Saint Mary’s at No. 13 Kentucky
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Series: First meeting
TV (online): SEC Plus