LEXINGTON, Ky. — Following one of the greatest runs in program history, the list of returners for the Kentucky women's basketball team has gotten shorter, again. Redshirt junior Olivia Owens has entered the transfer portal. The 6-foot-4 center averaged 3.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in about 13 minutes per game for the Wildcats this season.
Owens is the fourth Wildcat to announce her decision to transfer from the program, following Kentucky's historic rise from the SEC Tournament's No. 7 seed to the eventual tournament champion in early March. She joins Dre'Una Edwards, Jazmine Massengill and Treasure Hunt in the portal. Senior first-team All-American Rhyne Howard is graduating from UK and is entering the WNBA Draft after four years in Lexington.
In a statement released on Twitter, Owens said the decision was based not only on the sport of basketball, but also on her future career. In part, she wrote:
"With bittersweet emotions, I will be leaving Kentucky, but to pursue my career as a future attorney. Therefore, I am entering the transfer portal as a grad transfer. Again, thank you BBN! It was a privilege."
Her full statement is below:
My steps are ordered by the Lord. Psalms 37:23✨— Olivia Owens ✨ (@liv35_oo) March 28, 2022
Love you always and forever BBN 💙🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/KbmmybCtN9
Owens transferred to Kentucky after spending two years with the University of Maryland. As a graduate transfer, she will be immediately eligible to play next season.
As it stands now, UK could return up to five players from last year's roster: Robyn Benton, Blair Green, Emma King, Nyah Leveretter and Jada Walker. Benton and Green were seniors last season, but both would be eligible to play another year of college basketball, should they choose to do so.
Benton averaged 8.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last season, but she stepped up her game and became a more-consistent contributor in the SEC Tournament. Green was one of the players with the highest ceiling and most pre-season hype last year, but she was forced to miss the entire season after suffering a lower leg injury during a scrimmage in October.
Walker will be a sophomore next season and is coming off a strong freshman campaign, where she averaged 10.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 41 percent from the floor and 36 percent from deep. She had her best stretch of games during Kentucky's run in the SEC Tournament, where she put up 21 points in a win over Mississippi State and 16 points in an upset win over Tennessee.
King checked into 26 of UK's 31 games last season, and she finished the season averaging 2.2 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in those games.
With Owens now in the portal, incoming junior Leveretter becomes the tallest returning Wildcat on the roster, standing at 6-foot-3. She averaged 2.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game last year.
Head Coach Kyra Elzy and her staff have officially signed four incoming players for next year's class: guards Amiya Jenkins (who was recently named Miss Kentucky Basketball), Cassidy Rowe and Saniah Taylor, as well as forward Tionna Herron. Another 2022 guard, Kennedy Cambridge from Nashville, Tennessee, committed to Kentucky over the weekend.
LEX 18 Sports and BBN Tonight will keep you updated on the latest.