This year’s women’s NCAA Tournament field is filled with connections to the Bluegrass State, and one of those is Whitney Creech, Kentucky high school basketball’s all-time leading scorer.
But Western Kentucky, the Conference USA Tournament champion, is counting on the former Jenkins star to be a distributor, as much as a shooter, now that she’s the Hilltoppers’ starting point guard.
Creech, who finished her high school career with 5,527 points — 50.3 per game as a senior — is averaging 7.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and a team-best 2.9 assists as a college sophomore. She’s just starting to come into her own as a point guard, though.
She posted a career-high nine assists against UTEP on March 3 and followed that up with 11 against UTSA on March 8.
“Whitney is special,” Coach Michelle Clark-Heard told the College Heights Herald. “She’s adjusted to everything we’ve needed of her. When it was time for her to step up and play point, she did it.”
Creech averaged 9.0 points and 5.7 assists in the C-USA Tournament.
“I’m feeling pretty confident right now and I’m excited to go to the NCAA Tournament,” Creech told the Daily News of Bowling Green. “Hopefully we can keep this play up.”
Creech is just one of five Kentucky connections on WKU’s roster.
▪ Ivy Brown, a 6-1 senior forward out of LaRue County, was named first-team All-Conference USA and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. The 2014 Kentucky Miss Basketball winner averages 17.0 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots and shoots 41.3 percent from long range.
▪ Dee Givens, a 6-1 sophomore forward who starred at Lafayette, earned the conference’s Sixth Player of the Year honor. She averages 8.7 points and 4.2 rebounds and shoots 90.6 percent from the free-throw line.
▪ Alexis Brewer, a 5-9 junior guard who played in high school at LaRue County and Bardstown and is sitting out this season after transferring from West Virginia, averaged 6.3 points for the Mountaineers last season. Elizabeth Anderson, a 6-1 freshman forward out of Mercy, has averaged 1.1 points and 0.8 rebounds in three appearances this season.
▪ Ohio State’s Linnae Harper, a 5-8 senior guard from Chicago, was Kentucky’s third-leading scorer (11.5 per game) and leading rebounder (7.1) as a sophomore during the 2014-15 season. This season, she’s third on the Buckeyes in scoring (14.6), second in rebounding (8.5) and first in steals (2.2). Harper was a second-team All-Big Ten selection and was one of five players named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
▪ South Carolina’s Alexis Jennings, a 6-3 junior forward, averaged 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in two seasons at UK. This season, she’s averaging 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds.
▪ Connecticut’s Batouly Camara, a 6-2 forward, has averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 19 games.
▪ Oklahoma’s Morgan Rich, a 5-10 sophomore guard from Allen County-Scottsville, has missed all of this season with a knee injury.
More Kentucky connections
Florida Gulf Coast: China Dow finished her high school career as Christian Academy of Louisville’s all-time leading scorer with 2,403 points. Now she’s part of the Eagles’ back-to-back Atlantic Sun Tournament championship squads, and she earned MVP honors in both years. Dow, a first-team All-Atlantic Sun selection, has averaged 11.8 points and 5.6 rebounds during her senior season.
Duke: Rebecca Greenwell, a 6-1 senior guard from Owensboro Catholic, is a second-team All-ACC pick who averages 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 42.0 percent from three-point range. She set five Blue Devils freshman records in 2014-15 — field goals attempted (396), three-pointers made (72), three-pointers attempted (202), double-figure scoring games (28-tied) and minutes played (1,171).
Dayton: JaVonna Layfield, a 5-11 senior forward from Ballard, averages a double-double with 12.1 points and 12.9 rebounds to go with 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game. She was a second-team All-Atlantic 10 selection.
Louisville: Jessica Laemmle, a 5-2 sophomore guard out of Mercy, averaged 0.9 points and 0.9 rebounds in 21 games. Lindsey Duvall, 5-9 freshman guard out of Bullitt East, is redshirting this season because of a knee injury. Duvall was Kentucky’s 2017 Miss Basketball.
Oregon: Erin Boley, the 2016 Kentucky Miss Basketball winner from Elizabethown, is sitting out this season after after transferring from Notre Dame. She averaged 6.5 points and 2.8 rebounds as a freshman for the Irish last season.
Georgia: Taja Cole, a 5-7 sophomore guard who transferred from Louisville, averages 8.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
Texas A&M: Ciera Johnson, 6-4 sophomore center, is sitting out this season after transferring from Louisville.