High School Sports

Where UK’s Matthew Mitchell could look to end in-state recruiting woes

Ashland Blazer’s Mykasa Robinson (23) shoots past Danville's Cameron McPherson (12) during their quarterfinal game in the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet 16 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky., Friday March, 14, 2014.
Ashland Blazer’s Mykasa Robinson (23) shoots past Danville's Cameron McPherson (12) during their quarterfinal game in the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet 16 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky., Friday March, 14, 2014. Bowling Green Daily News

Lindsey Duvall’s commitment to Louisville last weekend was a reminder that when it comes to recruiting, Matthew Mitchell has some work to do to keep the University of Kentucky women’s basketball program in the black.

Duvall, a star at Bullitt East who renounced her commitment to UK in May, was the second in-state player to commit to U of L in July. She joined Seygan Robins, a Mercer County junior who also held a scholarship offer from UK.

Hope is not lost if Mitchell and his staff wish to continue looking in their backyard for talented prospects. Here are some home-grown options that could help swing the Cats’ recruiting momentum in a positive direction.

Mykasa Robinson, 5-7 junior, Ashland Blazer

She averaged 18.8 points and 6.6 rebounds for a Kittens squad that had a rare early exit from the 16th Region Tournament last year. She’s rated as a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 3 point guard in her class (and 15th overall) by ESPN. Robinson, who posted several triple-double nights last season, recorded the first quadruple-double by any basketball player in Ashland Blazer history as a sophomore.

Notable: Robinson suffered an ACL tear over the summer. Aaron Snyder of the Ashland Daily Independent has reported that she’s likely to be out until February.

College mix: UK and U of L are both recruiting Robinson along with several other Division I schools, among them Colorado, where her sister Alexis plays.

Blair Green, 6-0 junior, Harlan County

Eastern Kentucky boasts not one, but two high-profile players in the class of 2018. Green holds several offers, among them UK, U of L and Tennessee. She averaged 18.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and shot 50.5 percent during the 2015-16 season. Green, whose mom, Debbie Hoskins Green, is the coach at Harlan County, is rated as a three-star prospect and the No. 5 wing in the 2018 class by ESPN.

Notable: Green’s mom was the first girls’ player from Harlan County to sign with UK. Debbie Hoskins played at UK for one season before transferring to Lincoln Memorial University. She and Patti Myers Morris — mother of current UK sophomore Maci Morris — played together at Harlan and helped the girls’ program win its first 13th Region title in 1987.

College mix: UK, U of L, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Dayton and UCLA have all reportedly offered Green.

Grace Berger, 6-0 junior, Sacred Heart

What Berger lacks in eye-popping production — she averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds as a sophomore — she makes up for by playing in one of the state’s toughest regions, and for one of its most tradition-rich programs. Berger was a second-team all-state selection last year — either a slight or a testament to the talent Kentucky is churning out — but will almost certainly finish among the top 10 vote-getters in the 2016-17 season.

Notable: Coach Donna Moir — eighth all-time in state girls’ coaching wins and third among active coaches — told cn2 in December: “She’s got all the physical attributes of being one of the top players to ever play for Sacred Heart. … And she probably has one of the best work ethics of anybody I’ve ever coached.”

College mix: Berger, ranked 21st overall in the class of 2018 by ESPN, has been offered by dozens of schools. Kentucky, Louisville, South Carolina, Michigan and Indiana are among her suitors.

Ally Niece, 5-9 junior, Simon Kenton

Niece scored 20.9 points a game for the Pioneers but missed a chance to show out in the state tournament after Trimble County shocked Simon Kenton in the 8th Region finals. She’s scored 2,101 points over her career and has a flair for heroics.

Notable: She played varsity minutes beginning as a sixth-grader at Scott. Niece transferred to Simon Kenton her freshman season.

College mix: Niece holds scholarship offers from Xavier and Northern Kentucky.

The senior class

The common denominator among the four previous names? None of them could provide a spark for the UK women’s program until the 2018-19 season. This year’s in-state senior class isn’t as hyped as the 2018 group, but who are some hidden gems that could add depth to a potentially thin roster in 2017?

▪ Elizabethtown’s Jada Stinson, a 5-7 point guard ranked 12th nationally at her position, is receiving interest from several schools — among them Western Kentucky, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Cincinnati. Stinson, who could potentially give E-town back-to-back Miss Basketball winners, was second only to Gatorade national player of the year Erin Boley in scoring for the Panthers last year (14.1 ppg) and shot 52.4 percent from the floor.

▪ Lafayette star Kiara Pankins was the only Lexington or Louisville player to finish as a top-20 scorer last season. She nearly averaged a double-double with 20.7 points and 9.2 rebounds a game. Mid-major schools are in the mix for the 6-foot guard/forward who could bring an intriguing combo of size and ball-handling to campus.

▪ Another local product to keep an eye on is Franklin County’s Princess Stewart. The 5-foot-9 point guard was the leading scorer for a Flyers team that played a brutal schedule and reached the state finals last season. She’s savvy around the rim and has good range from beyond the arc. Xavier, Cincinnati, Morehead State and Southern Illinois are among the schools recruiting Stewart.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

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