Olivia Owens granted immediate eligibility by NCAA

6-foot-4 center that transferred from Maryland will be eligible to play in 2020-21

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Courtesy: UK Athletics

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – The NCAA has granted immediate eligibility to University of Kentucky center Olivia Owens, making her eligible to compete for the Wildcats in the 2020-21 season, it was announced Thursday.

Owens, who was a five-star prospect and one of the best centers in the nation coming out of high school in 2018, joined the Kentucky program in June after transferring from Maryland.

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“Olivia is a phenomenal person and outstanding basketball player. We are so happy for her that she will be able to compete this year with her teammates,” said UK head coach Matthew Mitchell. “She has worked hard since arriving on campus to be able to play this season and I know her teammates and all of us are overjoyed for her that she will get that opportunity.”

“I am so excited for the next chapter and looking forward to playing with my teammates this season,” Owens said. “Let’s go BBN!”

Owens began her collegiate career as one of the best post prospects in the nation, ranking as a five-star recruit by ESPN.com, which also tabbed her the fifth-best post in the 2018 class and 34th-best player overall. All-Star Girls Report ranked the 6-foot-4 post as the No. 26 overall player in the class after she was tabbed a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association High School All-American Honorable Mention and McDonalds All-American Game nominee. A star at Niskayuna High School, Owens was a USA Today All-New York First-Team honoree and was named the team’s MVP her junior season after averaging 20.6 points and 12.3 rebounds. As a senior, Owens became only the second player in school history to score 1,000 career points while she also posted 42 points in a game, which set a conference record.

The native of Albany, N.Y., joins the Wildcats after two seasons at Maryland, where she played in 16 games as a freshman before missing last season due to medical issues. As a freshman, Owens performed well, hitting 55 percent from the field while recording a point in nine games and a rebound in nine games. One of her best outings was in the Big 10 Championship game where she played six minutes and scored four points with four rebounds to lift the Terrapins to the title. She also had three rebounds and scored two points in Maryland’s NCAA First Round win vs. Radford. In her collegiate debut, Owens pulled down six rebounds with a steal and two points vs. Coppin State and followed with four points, three rebounds and a block vs. George Washington.

The Wildcats will return a large portion of their production for 2020-21 even with the departure of five seniors. UK will bring back its top two and five of the top seven scorers from last season while also returning its top two rebounders. Kentucky will also add Owens, 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Dre’una Edwards and a talented group of newcomers to the roster this season.

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com