King reflects on her time at UK: Lincoln County grad says expect a lot from new-look team

Published 1:41 pm Thursday, September 29, 2022


Contributing columnist

She’s played in 46 career games, but Kentucky senior Emma King says it has been “crazy” how fast her basketball career has gone by and she feels like it has been a “whirlwind.”

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“It has been such a fun time to be able to be part of some amazing stuff here. It’s truly been a blessing,” said King, a three-star prospect out of Lincoln County who picked UK over Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville and Dayton.

There is one big change for King — there is no Rhyne Howard on the team this year. Howard was a three-time All-American and recently was named WNBA Rookie of the Year. She was UK’s leading scorer and playmaker for three seasons.

“Not having Rhyne just gives other people an opportunity to step up and be able to prove themselves,” King said. “We always knew we had Rhyne to rely on and she was such a big part of the program we could rely on her. If it went bad, it was like, ‘OK, we have Rhyne.’

“Now we have to see who is going to step up and make plays when we face adversity. It’s going to be interesting. We have 15 players and 10 are new — six freshmen and four transfers.”

King played in 26 games last season and started twice. She was a prolific 3-point shooter in high school, but was just 3-for-32 from long range last year — an area Elzy is confident she will improve dramatically this year.

King has focused just as much on being a more vocal leader, something that does not come easily for her.

She’s got plenty of help from fifth-year senior Blair Green, who missed last season after rupturing her Achilles tendon in preseason workouts.

“I am excited to take the floor with her again,” King said. “She has worked so hard. I have nothing but respect and praise for her.”

Kentucky made an unlikely run last season to win its first Southeastern Conference Tournament championship since 1982. The Cats beat Tennessee in the semifinals and No. 1 South Carolina, the eventual national champion, in the SEC title game.

“Our mindset is we are still Kentucky basketball. Yes, this is a new team but we want to find a way to do that again. Everybody came here to win.”

King has been impressed with all 10 newcomers, but none more than Maddie Scherr — a two-time Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year at Ryle High School and Oregon transfer.

“Kentucky fans are going to like Maddie Scherr a lot. Just the way she plays and what she brings to this team is going to be special,” King said. “We played her our senior year (of high school) when Ryle won the state championship, so I knew she was a really good player already.”