Kentucky confirmed on Thursday night that it has added Ivana Jakubcova of Slovakia to its signing class. The 6-foot-6 junior college player is the Cats’ first international player since Melissa Langelier of Quebec, Canada.
Jakubcova is averaging 7.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in seven games so far this season for Murray State College in Oklahoma. She’s rated the No. 20 overall junior college player, including the fourth-ranked post player by one service.
Kentucky forward Samantha Drake will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn meniscus in her left knee.
The senior from Bardstown injured her knee battling for a rebound in the final seconds of the first half against Central Michigan on Sunday.
Drake, a 6-foot-3 senior, will have surgery in a few weeks and then likely return with a medical redshirt by next September, a UK spokesman told the Herald-Leader.
Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell broke the news Monday night on his radio show, getting the information from her MRI back on his way there.
The former Nelson County star has played in 88 games for seventh-rated Kentucky with 23 starts. She has three career double-doubles and was expected to provide depth in the post.
Kentucky already lost freshman forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers for the season after a blood clot was discovered in her lungs just before the start of the season.
Drake has appeared sparingly in all four games this season for the Cats, averaging one point and less than a rebound.
The forward was suspended from the team during its NCAA Tournament run last season, but had worked her way back into Mitchell’s good graces in the off-season.
“I think a lot of Sam; I love her a lot,” Mitchell told the Herald-Leader before the season started. “I want her to be successful. … She had to search her soul to see if she wanted to play and once she made that decision, she had to do some things to get back on the team.”
Kentucky is starting a service project and encouraging fans at the next two home games (vs. Lipscomb on Thursday and vs. Bradley on Nov. 27) to bring unused toiletry items travel size or regular size (tooth brush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant) to either game.
The items will be donated to Bluegrass Hospitality Group’s Thanksgiving Dinner for the less fortunate, which will take place on Nov. 28 from 11-2 p.m. at Malone’s and Sal’s on Tates Creek Road.
Fans who make a donation, which can be dropped off at any UK marketing kiosk at Memorial Coliseum, will get a voucher for a free box of popcorn.
Mitchell will donate 2,000 sets of winter hats and gloves to be distributed at the Thanksgiving Dinner and other community outreach programs. Also, those attending the lunch will be given a free ticket and a food voucher for a women’s home game of their choice.
Kentucky’s game on Sunday at Middle Tennessee State has been picked up for television by the student media at the school and will be carried live on the CW in Lexington.
The pickup by television moved the tip back to 5 p.m. (Eastern).
No. 7 Kentucky leads the series over the Blue Raiders 11-4, but has lost the last two on the road at the Murphy Center.
Tickets can be purchased in person or by phone at (615) 898-2103 or online at GoBlueRaiders.com.
Kentucky has two early games this season, including a home opener against Georgia Southern on Wednesday at 11 a.m. UK sports information already has issued a release encouraging those without a valid UK parking pass to park at the K-Overflow Lot, which is located across Alumni Drive from Commonwealth Stadium.
A free shuttle service will begin at 9:30 a.m. to take guests across campus (approximately 10-15 minutes) to the front of Memorial Coliseum. Shuttle service will continue until 11:15 a.m. and then resume 1.5 hours after tip-off at the front of Memorial Coliseum until 1 hour post-game. Shuttles will be handicap accessible, the release notes.
For complete information regarding these special parking arrangements on November 13, please visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday.
After Friday morning’s practice, Matthew Mitchell said his likely starting lineup for Sunday’s exhibition game will look a lot like the Cats’ starting lineup at the end of last season, including forwards DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker, fellow senior Kastine Evans and Bria Goss and Jennifer O’Neill at the other guard spots.
Mitchell said in his mind, the point guard spot is a dead heat right now between O’Neill, who started 32 games last season, and sophomore Janee Thompson.
“There’s not much difference between O’Neill and Thompson right now and that’s a good thing for us,” Mitchell said on Friday. “They are both playing good basketball. And Janee Thompson, I think people are going to be really excited to see the progression from her freshman to sophomore year.”
If that starting lineup stands, it would mean UK has three McDonald’s All-Americans coming off the bench.
Freshman forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, who will miss this season after a pulmonary embolism was discovered early this week, is being treated with blood thinners for at least the next six months, a UK spokesman said.
The former Marion County standout will receive “ongoing evaluation throughout her treatment,” UK officials said when asked about her future.
Goodin-Rogers is on the sideline for practices and UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said he expects “a range of emotions here early on.
“She’s trying to have a really positive attitude through this very difficult situation,” he said on Thursday. “You can imagine coming to play at Kentucky has been something she’s been looking forward to doing for so long, and to work so hard during the summer and work harder than you’ve ever worked before, then you get right here to the beginning of the season and it’s taken away from you. It’s a very difficult set of circumstances for her.”
In the world of full disclosure, I’m a voter in the Associated Press poll this season. I’ll be posting my ballots each Sunday. Just thought some of you might be interested. Here’s my pre-season ballot:
4. Notre Dame
11. North Carolina
13. Texas A&M
15. South Carolina
18. Iowa State
19. Green Bay
20. Penn State
25. West Virginia
Kentucky started last pre-season ranked No. 6 in the nation, the school’s highest rating ever, and it will start in a similar position this season, coming in at No. 7 in the Associated Press poll released on Friday. UK was ranked No. 8 in the coaches’ poll released recently.
The AP poll has Kentucky, which ended last season at No. 7 as well, facing eight teams ranked in the pre-season top 25 including, No. 2 Duke, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 5 Louisville, No. 10 Baylor, No. 15 LSU, No. 16 Texas A&M, No. 22 South Carolina and No. 24 Georgia.
Other UK opponents Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt and DePaul also received votes in the poll.
Kentucky’s Ukari Figgs, an assistant athletics director for women’s basketball, is leaving the program to accept a private sector job.
In a release, the school said the Miss Basketball from Scott County is taking a position as an assembly engineering specialist at Toyota in Georgetown.
Figgs was in her third year in the UK position and was responsible for scheduling, team travel supervising all non-coaching personnel, management of the budget, facility coordinator among other duties.
“Stepping away from this position at UK was a very difficult decision for me because I am so appreciative of the opportunity that Matthew Mitchell and Mitch Barnhart have given me,” Figgs said in the release.
“I love working at the University of Kentucky, the college I grew up cheering for, and I was so happy to be given the chance to return to college athletics,” Figgs continued. “However, circumstances surrounding my family in the past few months have put things in perspective for me as far as my priorities and where my time and energy needs to be devoted.”
Figgs graduated from Purdue with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1999 and spent more than five years as a production engineer at Toyota before she entered in the coaching ranks in 2009.
According to the UK salary database, Figgs was making $105,000 a year in her position with women’s basketball. UK spokesman Susan Lax said Figgs’ duties will be spread throughout the staff until a replacement is hired.