Sep. 24th, Matthew Mitchell, Head Coach Women’s Basketball, University of Kentucly
The Rotary Club of Lexington held its weekly meeting Thursday, September 24th, via Zoom. Guest speaker was Mathew Mitchell, Head Coach Women’s Basketball, University of Kentucky. If you would like a Zoom invitation email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coach Matthew Mitchell’s focus on the fundamentals and on his “winning tools” is sure to bring continued success to a program that has reached new heights under his leadership even as the UK Women’s Basketball team begins the 2020-2021 season in a global pandemic. After a rebuilding season in 2018, the team returned to their powerhouse ways in 2019 sitting inside the top 20 in the national rankings most of the season and finishing with another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky won 11 games in the league, including key road wins at No. 13 Tennessee and No. 13 South Carolina. The strong season led Coach Matthew Mitchell to be named Southeastern Conference (SEC) Coach of the Year by league coaches for the second time in his career. Behind the unanimous national Freshman of the Year in Rhyne Howard, the UK offense hit 234 3-pointers, which is the second-most makes in program history, while UK’s 36.4 percent from long range is the fourth highest in program history. Defensively, the Wildcats forced 700 turnovers and had 355 steals, which both are the seventh most in program history.
During Mitchell’s tenure in Lexington, UK has advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals or better nine times. In 2012, Mitchell led UK to the SEC regular season championship, its first in 30 years. Under Mitchell, the Cats have finished top four in the SEC 11 times and have charted 25-plus wins seven seasons. The Wildcats had a stretch of being ranked in the top 25 of the AP poll a school-record 132 consecutive weeks.
Mitchell’s teams have brought excitement to women’s basketball in the Bluegrass like never before. Kentucky’s attendance numbers have reached impressive heights the last nine years as the Wildcats have averaged 5,000 or more fans nine of the last ten seasons, while seven of the eight most-attended home games in program history have all come the past few years under head coach Matthew Mitchell.
Under Mitchell, 21 different players have received All-SEC accolades. A UK player has won the AP SEC Player of the Year four times and five of his players, Evelyn Akhator, Makayla Epps, Victoria Dunlap, A’dia Mathies and DeNesha Stallworth, have been WNBA draft picks, including three in the first round.
His players also excel in the classroom as 42 Wildcats have been SEC Academic Honor Roll members and 100 percent of Mitchell’s players have received their degrees. His players have secured a team GPA of 3.0 or better for twelve straight semesters.
Away from basketball, Matthew and his wife, Jenna, started The Mitchell Family Foundation, a non-profit organization set to benefit charities in the Lexington community. The Mitchells are very active in the Lexington community through the Mitchell Family Foundation and many other nonprofit organizations.