Kentucky's Rhyne Howard Earns Pre-Season First Team All-America honors by Lindy’s Sports
Wildcats WBB team ranked 11th in the publication’s preseason top 25
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Despite losing five seniors, the University of Kentucky Wildcats enter the 2020-21 season ranked No.11 in Lindy’s Sports preseason top 25 listing, thanks in large part to standout junior guard Rhyne Howard.
Howard - the 2020 SEC Player of the Year - was named to the publication’s preseason First-team All-America honors.
In addition to Howard, the Wildcats will return their top two and five of their top seven scorers from last season while also bringing back its top two rebounders. The Wildcats will also add 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Dre’una Edwards, and a talented group of newcomers to the roster this season.
Howard is the leading returner for the Wildcats after earning a long list of accomplishments and honors last season. She earned first-team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team honors and was one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, which is widely considered the most prestigious honor in college basketball and names the nation's best player.
The native of Cleveland, Tennessee saw her name all over the Kentucky record books in 2019-20 as the only player in program history to score 25 or more points in five straight games while she was the second player to score 20 or more points in eight straight games. Howard had two stretches during the season of 20 or more points in eight straight games, including each of her last eight games played after missing three games with a finger injury.
She became the first player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. She was the fifth Kentucky player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors from a major organization and just the second UK player behind Valerie Still to earn three or more first-team All-America honors in the same season.
She also became the third player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors from the United States Basketball Writers Association, which automatically made her one of five candidates for the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year award from the USBWA. She was one of four finalists for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding women's college basketball player of the year and a top-five finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award, which names the top small forward of the year in collegiate women's basketball.
When the season was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wildcats had compiled a 22-8 record securing its 20th 20-win season in program history and its 10th under head coach Matthew Mitchell. At the end of the season, they were ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25. They were ranked inside the top 20 of both rankings all season long, peaking at No. 11 in both polls in mid-January.
The Wildcats also earned 10 wins in league play for the 10th time under Mitchell. Prior to Mitchell's tenure, Kentucky had never won 10 wins in league play. The UK also finished top four in the SEC for the 11th time under Mitchell securing a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament for the 11th time in program history and 10th time under Mitchell.
Mitchell will return as coach of the Wildcats after recovering from surgery earlier this summer. After a mild but persistent headache for an extended period of time, he sought medical attention and a subdural hematoma was discovered. Mitchell had a successful surgery at UK Chandler Hospital.