Former UK guard Amber Smith added to UK Hoops staff

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – A member of the most successful senior class in Kentucky women’s basketball history, former Wildcat guard Amber Smith has returned to Lexington and joined the women’s basketball support staff, head coach Matthew Mitchell announced Wednesday. Smith will be involved in a variety of areas within the program, helping the coaching staff with numerous tasks.

“It is an honor to be back at my alma mater, a place where I had five of the most memorable years of my life as a student-athlete,” Smith said. “To be a part of history as a player and now to be able to return on staff is a blessing that most do not receive. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to work with Coach Mitchell, Coach Elzy and the rest of the staff. They both have had an integral part in my growth as a player and as a person. I am looking forward to helping create more history and also giving back to a program that has given so much to me.”

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Smith has spent the past three years in the coaching ranks, starting as a graduate assistant at Tennessee before a two-year stint as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech, where her main roles were recruiting and on-court development. During her time in Knoxville, where she worked with (now UK associate head coach Kyra) Elzy, the Lady Vols won 29 games, including winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

“It is always great when former players want to come back and be part of your program after their playing days are over,” Mitchell said. “I am lucky enough to have two former players still in our office in Amani Franklin and now Amber. Amber is full of energy and has a way of connecting with people that I know is going to impact our office in a very positive way. She is one of those people that you always want to be around and makes your day better when you get to interact with her. I am very excited to have her onboard and know that our players and staff are going to love having her around.”

One of the most decorated players under Mitchell, Smith played in 123 career games for Kentucky at guard with 109 starts. She was a member of the 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team and ranks sixth all-time in program history in assists and eighth all-time in assists per game. During her tenure, Smith averaged 7.0 points per game and 3.4 assists per game, helping Kentucky advance to four consecutive postseason tournaments, including two trips to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

Smith has been recognized nationally for her success after college as she was one of 50 participants chosen to attend the 11th-annual Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “So You Want To Be A Coach” program in April of 2013. Additionally, Smith was one of 12 recipients of the NCAA’s UPLIFT Registration Scholarship, allowing her to attend a professional development symposium for aspiring young basketball assistant coaches in 2014, and the Steve and Kaye Maynard Women’s Basketball Graduate Assistant Scholarship.

A native of Winter Haven, Fla., Smith is part of Mitchell’s 100% graduation rate among four-year players at Kentucky as she graduated in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated strategic communications.

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Alex Risen joined the ABC 36 News team in October of 2011 as ABC 36’s Weekend Sports Anchor/ Sports Reporter. Alex can also be seen Friday nights co-anchoring the Highschool Highlight Reel. Alex started out in the broadcast business while still in college at the University of Kentucky, heading up the school’s daily student news network as the Sports Director. He made his commercial televsion debut in May of 2011 while at WYMT in Hazard, Kentucky as co-host of a weekly, half-hour high school sports program previewing area schools’ games on Friday nights and as a morning sports anchor. Alex has also spent time as an intern at ESPN in the Statistics and Analysis department, as a production assistant for NBC Sports horse racing and Sunday Night Football productions, and as an intern for WLKY in his hometown of Louisville, KY. Alex graduated from Saint Xavier High School in 2007 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Kentucky in 2010 where he graduated magna cum laude from the Honors Program. He’s excited to be covering his passion in his home state and make Central Kentucky his home for years to come. Alex can be reached at ARisen@wtvq.com