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Epps, Thompson, Akhator & Morris Named All-SEC Performers

LEXINGT­­­ON, Ky. – University of Kentucky junior guard Makayla Epps, senior guard Janee Thompson, junior forward Evelyn Akhator and freshman guard Maci Morris have been named All-Southeastern Conference performers for their success on the court this season, the league office announced Tuesday, March 1.

Epps (pictured with coach Matthew Mitchell) was named to the All-SEC First Team, becoming the third player in the Matthew Mitchell era to be named to the first team multiple times, joining Victoria Dunlap and A’dia Mathies. The honor is the first of its kind for Thompson and Akhator, who were named to the All-SEC Second Team, while Morris was tabbed to the eight-member All-SEC Freshman Team.

First-team and second-team All-SEC honorees, All-Freshman team, All-Defensive team, along with Player, Coach, Freshman, Defensive Player, 6th Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year were chosen by the league's 14 coaches.

A member of the 2015-16 Naismith Trophy Women’s College Player of the Year Midseason 30, Epps is having a great season for UK, leading Kentucky in scoring with 16.3 points per game. The native of Lebanon, Ky., is also averaging 4.5 assists per game and 4.7 rebounds per game. The junior has performed at her best on the biggest of stages, averaging 18.4 points per game and hitting .486 from the field this season in games against highly ranked Arizona State, Louisville, Duke, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.

Earlier this season, Epps become the 31st member of Kentucky’s 1,000 point club and currently ranks 25th all-time in points scored with 1,085. She was the third-fastest player under Mitchell to reach 1,000 points. Against Morehead State in November, Epps became the second player in program history to record a triple-double with 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. Epps has scored 20+ points nine times and has been in double digits 23 times.

Thompson has saved her best season for last, averaging 12.4 points per game and 5.0 assists per game. The native of Chicago has scored in double figures 18 times, including 20+ points three times. Against highly-ranked Missouri last week, Thompson posted a career-high 24 points, including 12 points in the fourth quarter to power the Wildcats to victory. Thompson has recorded two assist-point double-doubles this season with 16 points and 10 assists against Eastern Michigan and LSU. She is the first player to record two or more assist-point double-doubles in the same season since 1987-88.

The senior leader has six or more assists in 12 games this season, which are the most six-plus assist games in a season in the Mitchell era. Thompson is 47-for-113 from the 3-point line this year, which surpasses her career 3-pointers hit of 36 entering the season. The guard ranks 65th nationally in total assists and 58th in the nation in assists per game.

In her first year with Kentucky, Akhator has been a key addition to the Wildcats' post presence, averaging 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season. The native of Lagos, Nigeria, has scored in double figures 19 times, while posting 10 or more rebounds in 12 games. The reigning SEC Player of the Week, Akhator has really performed well the past two weeks, averaging 13.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in the last four games. Against No. 11 Texas A&M in the regular-season finale, Akhator scored 15 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds.

Akhator has 10 double-doubles on the season, including three double-doubles where she has recorded more rebounds than points. The junior transferred from Chipola Community College where she was the WBCA Junior/Community College National Player of the Year last season, and ranks 47th in the nation in rebounds per game and 53rd nationally in total rebounds. Akhator’s 10 double-doubles are the third-most by any player in a single-season under Mitchell.

After starting her UK career with 16 points for the fifth-best scoring debut in program history, Morris (pictured) has continued her success this season starting every game for the Wildcats. The native of Pineville, Ky., is averaging 8.6 points per game while she has hit at least one 3-pointer in 21 of Kentucky’s 27 games this season. Morris has scored a season-best 17 points twice this season. She set her season high against Eastern Michigan when she hit 5-of-6 3s before hitting two 3-pointers and going 6-of-9 from the field against highly-ranked Mississippi State to tie her season-best scoring output.

The freshman has hit 38 3-pointers this season, which are the fourth-most by a true freshman in program history, needing just 12 more makes from long distance to tie the program record. Morris has improved her defense this season as well, including a stretch in December where she guarded the opponents' leading scorer in three-straight games, keeping all three players well under their season averages.

The Wildcats are the No. 5 seed in the SEC Tournament this week and will return to the court on Thursday at approx. 2:30 p.m. ET to face the winner of 12th-seeded Alabama and 13th-seeded LSU. All second-round games will be televised on the SEC Network.

First Team All-SEC

A’ja Wilson, SC

Tiffany Mitchell, SC

Makayla Epps, UK

Courtney Walker, AM

Victoria Vivians, MS

Jessica Jackson, AR

Shacobia Barbee, UG

Alaina Coates, SC

Second Team All-SEC

Ronni Williams, UF

Tiaria Griffin, UG

Jordan Jones, AM

Janee Thompson, UK

Sophie Cunningham, MO

Evelyn Akhator, UK

Courtney Williams, AM

Jordan Frericks, MO

All-Defensive Team

A’ja Wilson, SC

Jordan Jones, AM

Dominique Dillingham, MS

Shacobia Barbee, UG

Simone Westbrook, UF

All-Freshman Team

Sophie Cunningham, MO

Eleanna Christinaki, UF

Anriel Howard, AM

Cierra Porter, MO

Caliya Robinson, UG

Te’a Cooper, UT

Tearia McCowan, MS

Maci Morris, UK

Coach of the Year: Dawn Staley, SC

Player of the Year: A’ja Wilson, SC

Freshman of the Year: Sophie Cunningham, MO

Defensive Player of the Year: A’ja Wilson, SC

6th Woman of the Year: Chelsea Jennings, AM

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Marjorie Butler, UG

Photos by Jamie H. Vaught

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