LEX18 — The good news continues to roll in for the Kentucky women's basketball team, as the Wildcats prepare for another season with high expectations. The Cats will begin the season as the No. 11 team in America, according to the Associated Press Week 1 poll.
This marks the 12th time Kentucky has started the season in the AP top-25 under head coach Matthew Mitchell's 14-year tenure, and it is the team's highest ranking since also being ranked No. 11 in the AP's 2014-15 preseason listing.
In addition to Kentucky, four other SEC programs made the initial list. South Carolina will start the season as a serious national title contender and the No. 1 team in the country, while Mississippi State (No. 6), Texas A&M (No. 13) and Arkansas (No. 14) also made the cut. With five teams on the list, the SEC is tied as the league with the most teams included in the preseason top-25. No other conference had five teams all ranked inside the top 15.
In-state rival Louisville comes in at No. 5 on the list, although the Cats and Cards are not currently expected to play one another this season, according to both head coaches. Kentucky's Coach Mitchell recently spoke with LEX18 during a conversation on our nightly UK sports show, BBN Tonight. Click here to watch the full interview.
Here's a look at the AP's list in its entirety:
Associated Press Preseason Top 25
1. South Carolina (29)
2. Stanford (1)
6. Mississippi State
8. NC State
13. Texas A&M
15. Iowa State
18. Oregon State
20. Ohio State
22. Notre Dame
24. Missouri State
Entering its 14th season under Mitchell, Kentucky returns a large portion of its production for 2020-21, even with the departure of five graduating seniors last season. However, UK will bring back its top two scorers and its top two rebounders. Kentucky will also add Maryland transfer Olivia Owens, 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Dre'una Edwards and a top-15 recruiting class in true freshmen Treasure Hunt, Nyah Leveretter and Erin Toller. Rhyne Howard is the leading returner for the Wildcats after earning a long list of accomplishments and honors last season.
In preparation for the return of Kentucky women's basketball, UK Athletics has received reduced capacity guidelines from state health officials for the 2020-21 season and has designed a distanced-seating plan to host fans at Memorial Coliseum in the healthiest manner possible. The plan is focused on the recommended health and safety protocols for the well-being of all student-athletes, fans and staff.
At this point, the anticipated attendance for this season at Memorial Coliseum is up to 15% of normal arena capacity, which includes participants, essential personnel, media and a limited number of spectators. All plans are subject to change based on evolving information as well as local, state and national public health developments.
The women's basketball schedule for the upcoming season has not been finalized at this time. However, the season is slated to begin in late November, according to the NCAA. Watch BBN Tonight every weeknight at 7:30 on LEX18 News or follow along with us on social media to stay up-to-date with all of the latest Wildcat news.