By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky senior Maci Morris returned to Bell County for a “Meet Your Wildcat” gathering Wednesday at the Bell Theatre in Pineville that UK coach Matthew Mitchell said was a “fantastic” event for everyone.
“She was very appreciative of everybody that came out. She and I talked about it yesterday and it was a really special time for her,” Mitchell said Friday. “I think Maci is a really special person and the University’s connection to the mountains, especially the basketball programs here is really unique.
“Any time that I drove over there to recruit her or watch her play, there was a UK flag on everybody’s house and it is a really special place. I know that everyone is really proud of her and what she has done. She has come here and turned into one of the best players in the SEC and she is on the list for one of the best players in the country. She has had a remarkable impact on our program and is a true competitor.”
Mitchell said Morris wants to win but there’s more to define her than just that drive.
“I think all of that is heighted by the love she has for Kentucky and the love she has for putting on that uniform. People love her all over the state but really where she is from, I thought it was really important to connect Maci to the people that have supported her and who are so proud of her,” Mitchell said.
“It was a great event and appreciate all the hard work of everyone who pulled that together and we certainly appreciate the support and love shown to Maci and our entire basketball program. That is what we wanted Maci to go over and make sure she expressed how appreciative we are of the support we get. We are asking and wanting a really big crowd to come out and honor these seniors as it comes down the stretch.”
Mitchell said he always had confidence Morris would succeed at UK — and she has in her four years.
“A recruiting service can say you are a certain number in the country but that doesn’t always translate into what is actually becoming. You have to factor in how hard is the player going to work and how tough she is and how resilient is she,” Mitchell said.
“Maci has just really improved in every facet. She has embraced development and improvement and has worked hard and we can create the environment but we can’t do the work. You have to give her all the credit in the world for getting here and working herself into this position.
“I was so happy when she decided to come here and had a lot of confidence that she would have a great career here but there is never anything guaranteed. But I hope everyone that comes here reaches their potential and I think Maci has done that and then some.”