The state of Kentucky’s most prominent tie to the NCAA Tournament — outside of No. 3 seeds UK and Louisville — will be playing in Lexington on Saturday.
April Wilson, a 5-foot-7 senior guard who starred at Manual, leads 11th-seeded Purdue in both scoring (14.6 per game) and assists (5.6).
Wilson was the Girls’ Sweet Sixteen MVP after scoring 23 points in Manual’s 58-54 victory over Marion County in the state championship game in Bowling Green in 2012.
The Boilermakers, a potential second-round opponent for the Cats who will be facing sixth-seeded Oklahoma in the opening round, also have Nora Kiesler on their roster. The 6-6 freshman center from Assumption averages 2.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game.
“A lot of my family is already calling me and texting me about (playing in Kentucky),” Wilson told the Lafayette Journal & Courier. “To be just be an hour-and-a-half away (from Louisville) will be huge. Nora is a Louisville-area native, too. We’ll have a nice crowd there from our end.”
Purdue senior Torrie Thornton is a Louisville native whose mother, the former Dierdre Stunson, played for the Cardinals.
Thornton, who averages 3.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in a reserve role for the Boilermakers, is already looking forward to the trip to Lexington.
“It’s awesome. I’ve already talked to my parents,” Thornton said. “They’re already excited about it. My whole family from my dad’s side is from Kentucky, so we’re definitely excited. We have two other girls from Kentucky, so we’ll definitely have a lot of fans.
“To be able to play close to home with a lot of family and friends who will be able to come see us play is a big deal.”
Purdue’s head coach, Sharon Versyp, has also spent time in the Bluegrass. She started her college coaching career at Louisville in 1996-97.
The Sooners also have a familiar face to Kentucky fans on their roster.
Former Allen County-Scottsville standout Morgan Rich left Kentucky’s program just before the season started, and she is sitting out this season and the fall semester of next season per NCAA transfer rules.
Other Kentucky connections
Alabama State: Michael Floyd, an assistant coach for the Southwestern Athletic Association championship winners, played two seasons each at South Alabama and Murray State. He averaged 3.1 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Racers from 1997-99.
Baylor: Daphne Mitchell, the Bears’ assistant coordinator of recruiting and operations, previously spent two seasons as an assistant at Murray State. She played in college at Georgia Tech.
Belmont: Head coach Cameron Newbauer, who took over in 2013 for the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champions, previously worked at Louisville for Jeff Walz.
Chattanooga: Junior guard Chelsey Shumpert, who starred at Paducah Tilghman, suffered a season-ending injury in the third game of the season for the Southern Conference Tournament champions. She averaged 10.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in those three games.
DePaul: Assistant head coach Jill Pizzotti worked at Northern Kentucky during the 1991-92 season.
Duquesne: Assistant coach Matt Schmidt served as the top assistant at Northern Kentucky for four seasons under head coach Nancy Winstel (2004-08). In 2008, he helped the Norse win the NCAA Division II national championship.
Florida State: Assistant coach Danielle Atkinson was at Kentucky from 2012-14. Video coordinator Clifton Williams, a Kentucky graduate, was an assistant video coordinator for UK’s men’s team from 2011-14. Before that, he was an assistant coach at Sayre from 2010-11.
Iowa: Assistant coach Lacey Goldwire spent the 2012-13 season as an assistant at Morehead State.
Kansas State: Stephanie Stoglin-Reed is in her first season as the Wildcats’ coordinator of recruiting operations. As a player, Stoglin-Reed played at Kentucky from 2000-02, Memphis from 2002-04, and finished her career at Houston Baptist in 2004-05. Senior guard Megan Deines, who is the Wildcats’ third-leading scorer at 9.7 points per game, previously played three seasons at Louisville.
Middle Tennessee: Assistant coach Tom Hodges rejoined the Blue Raiders’ staff in 2014 after four seasons as Morehead State’s head coach. When hired by the Eagles, he was the youngest head coach in Division I. Assistant coach Shalon Pillow worked for Matthew Mitchell at Kentucky for five seasons.
Notre Dame: Katie Capps, the Irish’s director of basketball operations, played at Western Kentucky and started her coaching career there as a graduate assistant during the 2003-04 season.
Ohio State: Assistant coach Mark Mitchell, the father of Kelsey and Chelsea Mitchell, played football at Eastern Kentucky and was part of two Division I-AA championship winning teams with the Colonels. An offensive lineman, he earned first team All-Ohio Valley Conference and honorable mention All-American honors in 1989. Point guard Linnae Harper is sitting out the season after transferring from Kentucky.
Seton Hall: Assistant coach Christian Stefanopoulos starred in high school at Boone County and played in college at Austin Peay and Thomas More. She spent last season as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Kentucky. She was also worked for Matthew Mitchell as an assistant at Morehead State, and she was UK’s video coordinator for three seasons.
South Carolina: Assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson was an assistant at Western Kentucky from 2006-08.
Syracuse: Associate head coach Vonn Read previously spent three seasons at Kentucky, starting in 2005.
Tennessee: Assistant coach Kyra Elzy starred in high school at Oldham County and in college for the Lady Vols, was an assistant at Western Kentucky for two seasons (2002-04), and was an assistant at Kentucky for four seasons (2008-12). Gradaute assistant Jasmine Jones is a Richmond native.
Texas A&M: Assistant coach Amy Wright was at Western Kentucky in 2007-08.
Troy: Asistant coach and recruiting coordinator Courtney Simmons played two seasons at Louisville (2006-08).
UCLA: Nicole Kornet, a Lexington native whose dad, Frank, starred at Lexington Catholic and Vanderbilt, and brother, Luke, plays for Vanderbilt, is sitting out this season after transferring after three years at Oklahoma. Last season with the Sooners, she scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds against Kentucky in the Paradise Jam Tournament. She averaged 4.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
West Virginia: Freshman guard Alexis Brewer, who starred at Bardstown, averages 4.0 points in 11.5 minutes per game for the Mountaineers.