Drake has opted not to play senior season

Kentucky senior Samantha Drake will not play in her final season, the school announced on Thursday.

The senior forward, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus four games into last season, could’ve taken a medical red-shirt, but has opted to not play and instead focus on school.

“Although I won’t be playing anymore, I’ll still be the biggest cheerleader for the team,” Drake said in the news release, thanking coaches, teammates and administrators. “I am going to turn my focus on academics and walking across that stage in May to receive my degree.”

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.

“Samantha contributed to so many victories during her career and we are grateful for her efforts,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said in the release. “We will continue supporting her any way we can as she works toward graduation.”

Drake had her high school jersey retired at Nelson County after setting scoring records for boys or girls with 3,068 points and 1,381 rebounds.

She would’ve been a veteran at the post position, where UK will be relatively young this season after the graduations of forwards Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth.

The Cats return Azia Bishop, who played in 35 games last season averaging 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. Jelleah Sidney also is back with her 3.1 points and 3.1 rebounds a game last season.

New assistant coach Adeniyi Amadou will be breaking in a collection of newcomers in the frontcourt.

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, a 6-foot-1 forward from Marion County, sat out last season while dealing with a blood clot in her lung. She has been cleared to play.

Three other newcomers include freshmen Alexis Jennings (6-2 freshman from Madison, Ala.) and Alyssa Rice (6-3 freshman from Reynoldsburg, Ohio) as well as 6-foot-6 junior college transfer Ivana Jakubcova.

Drake was suspended from the team during its NCAA Tournament run in 2013, but worked her way back into Mitchell’s good graces in the off-season. Before last season, the Cats coach said he thought highly of Drake.

“I love her a lot,” Mitchell said then. “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.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.