LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky women’s basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell has completed his 2016-17 roster, adding walk-ons Paige Poffenberger from Morgantown, W.Va., and LaShae Halsel from Bowling Green, Ky. Mitchell also has announced that Bellarmine transfer Jessica Hardin (pictured) has been awarded a scholarship.
“Every year we look to improve our team by adding quality young women that are already on campus and this year we were able to do that with the additions of Paige and LaShae,” Mitchell said. “They’ve been working out with the team for a few weeks and our staff has been impressed with how they have approached every day and been coachable.
We have been telling the players this preseason that we have to outwork everyone in the country based on good attitudes and strong effort, and Paige and LaShae have done nothing but help that in their short time with the program. As we start practice this afternoon, everyone around our program is excited to get this season started and build off what has been a great summer of work.”
Poffenberger will be a true freshman for the Wildcats this year, while Halsel will be a sophomore. Both players enrolled at UK following high school and are on academic scholarships. During the summer, the Wildcats added Hardin, who started her collegiate career at Bellarmine before transferring to Kentucky in 2014, and Rachel Potter (pictured, right), a standout high school player from Pikeville, Ky.
The 2016-17 Wildcats, coming off a 25-8 campaign with an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance last season, will be lead by a couple of preseason All-Americans -- senior guard Makayla Epps and senior forward Evelyn Akhator. Kentucky will begin the season on Friday, Nov. 11 against Miami (Fla.) at 7 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.
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Below are the biographies for Poffenberger and Halsel:
Paige Poffenberger, G, 5-8, Fr.-HS, Morgantown, W.Va. (Morgantown HS) Hard-nosed player who prides herself in her defensive intensity ... Quick guard who showed up at tryouts in great shape ... Very coachable player who has a willingness to learn … Had some offers out of high school, but elected to come to Kentucky for academics before earning a spot on the team … A National Merit Scholar.
High School: Impressive high school career helping the Morgantown Mohigans to three straight Class AAA state titles where she was coached by Jason White ... Had nine points in the state championship game as a senior ... Scored 19 points in Morgantown’s 63-43 victory over Parkersburg in the Region 1 final her senior season ... Was named all-state third team and All-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference second team as a senior ... As a junior, she helped Morgantown limit opponents to just 30.3 points per game, which was a Class AAA State Tournament record, while the Mohigans’ margin of victory in the state tournament that season was 23 points, also a state record … Averaged 9.3 points per game her senior season with 4.8 assists per game, 3.8 steals per game and hit 40.0 from the field, including 39.1 from 3 … All her averages her senior season were her career bests as she averaged 7.1 points per game her junior season and 4.3 points per game her sophomore season … Also had 2.9 assists per game and 1.8 steals per game as a junior and 1.7 assists per game and 1.5 steals per game as a sophomore … Active off the court as well as the Student Council Vice President and member of the National Honor Society … Is a National Merit Scholar who chose Kentucky academically over Vanderbilt and West Virginia … Participated in over 450 hours of community service during high school.
Personal: Place of Birth: Morgantown, W.Va. … Parent(s): Alan and Trace Poffenberger … Siblings: One brother, Carson … Major: Biology … Shooting Hand: Right.
LaShae Halsel, F, So-HS, 6-0, Bowling Green, Ky. (Warren Central HS) Physical post/wing that has worked hard in practice and conditioning ... In-state player at Warren Central High School who has a strong basketball IQ ... Impressed the coaches during open tryouts with her energy and attitude.
High School: A five-year starter at Warren Central High School … Played in 24 games as a senior, helping Warren Central to a 17-11 record ... Strong senior season for the Dragons, averaging 9.1 points per game and 11.0 rebounds per game … Her best season at Warren Central was as a junior when she averaged 10.5 points per game with 12.0 rebounds per game and 1.8 blocks per game … Had success for the Dragons as an underclassman, averaging 8.6 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game her sophomore season, while she averaged 6.2 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game her freshman season ... Was named an all-district performer her senior season … Also lettered multiple years in track and field, competing in high jump, long jump, the 4x100 relay and 4x200 relay … Earned the state title in the 4x100 relay in 2011 … One of eight students from her high school to be honored by Western Kentucky University for academic success her senior season.
Personal: Place of Birth: Bowling Green, Ky. … Parent(s): Susan Halsel and Santiago Halsel … Siblings: One brother, Donovan … Major: Business … Shooting Hand: Right.
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