LEXINGTON, Ky. – After being selected to finish second in the Southeastern Conference by the media, the No. 7/8 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team also was picked by the league’s coaches to finish second the conference office announced Tuesday.
Senior forward DeNesha Stallworth was named to the All-SEC First Team, while senior Samarie Walker and junior Jennifer O'Neill were recognized on the All-SEC Second Team. Stallworth, who is a preseason First Team All-SEC selection by the coaches and media, received three votes for SEC Player of the Year. Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons was chosen as the preseason SEC Player of the Year.
Seventh-year head coach Matthew Mitchell’s squad received 159 voting points, while Tennessee was picked to win the league with 167 points. The Wildcats enter the 2013-14 season after recording a school record 30 wins in 2012-13 and the team’s third Elite Eight in the last four seasons.
Stallworth is UK's leading returning scorer and second-leading rebounder for 2013-14. The Richmond, Calif., native averaged 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last year in helping lead the Wildcats to their third appearance in the Elite Eight in the last four years. The 6-foot-3 forward netted double figures in 27-of-35 games played, including 11-of-15 SEC contests. She ranked in the top-20 in SEC scoring (16th, 12.5 ppg), rebounding (19th, 6.0 rpg), field goal percentage (4th, .484) and blocks (5th, 1.5 bpg). She is currently on the 2013-14 preseason "Wade Watch", the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and the Senior CLASS Award Top 30 list.
Walker, a native of West Carrollton, Ohio, led the Wildcats in rebounds last season, corralling 8.1 boards per contest. The 2012 All-SEC Second Team honoree and All-Defensive Team member also led the team in steals (72), field goal percentage (.524) and blocks (56). She was the only post player in the SEC to rank in the top 11 in rebounding (5th, 8.1), blocks (5th, 1.5) and steals (11th, 2.0).
The 2013 Bridgeport Regional All-Tournament Team member, O’Neill, played in 35 of the 36 games with 32 starts as a sophomore. O’Neill, of the Bronx, N.Y., averaged a team-high 16.0 points in the two games of the Bridgeport Regional, with a team-high 19 points in UK’s 69-62 Sweet 16 victory over Delaware. She led the team in assists with 99 (2.8 per game) and ranked second on the team in 3-point percentage (.356) and 3-point field goals made (67).
The Wildcats opened the 2013-14 season with an exhibition victory over Eckerd College, 83-35, on Sunday, Nov. 3 in Memorial Coliseum. UK’s “40 minutes of dread” defense created havoc all afternoon, as the Wildcats forced 41 turnovers and held the Tritons to just 26.2 percent shooting from the field.
UK will travel to New York for a two-game road trip to officially open the season. The Cats will visit Marist in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. ET and Wagner in Staten Island, N.Y., on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. ET. The games will be carried live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action.
Order of Finish Points
1. Tennessee 167
2. Kentucky 159
3. LSU 134
4. Vanderbilt 124
T5. South Carolina 121
T5. Texas A&M 121
7. Georgia 104
8. Auburn 72
9. Missouri 69
10. Florida 60
11. Mississippi State 51
12. Arkansas 42
13. Ole Miss 25
14. Alabama 24
SEC Champion First Place Votes