Kentucky has suspended leading scorer Makayla Epps for an undetermined amount of time for alcohol-related charges pending in her hometown.
Terms of her suspension were not disclosed by UK Coach Matthew Mitchell in a more than 30-minute news conference on Wednesday afternoon, but the First Team All-Southeastern Conference player will miss at least one game next season.
“She’ll have to hit some very strenuous and strict guidelines,” Mitchell said in the wide-ranging interview. “She’ll have to meet guidelines to be reinstated to the team. It is up to her now to make that happen.”
Epps, 19, has pleaded not guilty to several alcohol-related charges stemming from an incident in Lebanon on April 12 at 1:48 a.m. when the point guard was found in a car with another female minor at a park.
The officer noted the smell of alcohol and found an open Bud Light in the back seat. The report also noted that Epps had slurred speech and that a Breathalyzer test showed the “presence of alcohol.”
The guard pleaded not guilty last week and has a pre-trial conference scheduled for May 11.
Mitchell said Epps “feels really badly” about what happened.
“Makayla has a very good heart,” he said. “Her decision making is questionable right now, so it’s my job as someone important in her life and someone who loves her and cares about her and has great concern for her well being and her future to now give her the structure and discipline she needs so she can become a great decision maker.”
The coach noted that the suspension is an opportunity for Epps to grow as a player and person.
“She certainly can find her way back and move forward in a positive way, but our players have to understand that they are they most visible group of young women in this state and that there’s a responsibility that comes with that,” Mitchell added.
The 2013 Miss Kentucky Basketball from Marion County is coming off a breakout season at Kentucky, where she led the Cats with 14.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, three assists and 1.3 steals a game.