Star in-state prospect, powerful forward from Georgia sign to play for Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Coaches always use the cliché “get better every day” and the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team did just that Wednesday by signing two players during the 2019 early signing period in dynamic in-state prospect Emma King (Stanford, Ky.) and one of the top forwards in the nation in Deasia Merrill (Villa Rica, Ga.).
“We are extremely happy that Emma and Deasia have decided to be Wildcats because they are first and foremost great people,” said Matthew Mitchell, who is in his 12th year as UK’s head coach. “They each possess the traits we look for when we hit the road recruiting and think they are going to be great additions to our program.”
Below is a detailed look at both players, including comments from Mitchell.
Emma King, 5-10, Guard – Lincoln County High School (Stanford, Ky.)
Impressive shooting guard that will come to Lexington with a reputation as a sharp shooter from long range and bring instant offense to the Wildcats … A three-star prospect by ESPN.com and ProspectsNation.com … Played in all 32 games her junior year for Cassandra McWhorter at Lincoln County High School … Led the Patriots to the 12th Region championship game … Averaged 20.6 points with 5.0 rebounds per game last season … Showed off her impressive shooting skills last season, hitting 45.6 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from long range with a team-best 60 made 3s … Strong junior season led her to be named all-state second-team by the Lexington Herald-Leader and Associated Press … Averaged 17.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore hitting 38.1 percent from the field and 30.5 percent from long range with a team-best 58 makes from long range … Scored her 1,000 career point in high school as a sophomore where she averaged 15.2 points per game and hit 39.9 percent from the field … Enters her senior season with 1,970 career points and 555 rebounds and is a career 79 percent shooter from the free-throw line … Played for Kentucky Premier and helped the U17 Team win the Nike National Championship in July … ESPN.com evaluated her at the Nike Tournament as a “agile off-guard who brings smooth release on jumper with range behind the arm; creates off the dribble, penetrates and passes in traffic; knocks down the jumper off of screens” … Picked Kentucky over Wisconsin, Florida, Dayton and Louisville … Daughter of Eric and Nancy King.
Matthew Mitchell on Emma King: “Emma King is what being a student-athlete at the University of Kentucky is all about. She has been a UK fan her entire life and has dreamed of wearing the Blue and White. She is a terrific shooter and has incredible range out on the perimeter, but can also create off the dribble and score inside. We’re glad she decided to be a Kentucky Wildcat and really look forward to her joining us next season.”
Deasia Merrill, 6-1, Forward – Villa Rica High School (Villa Rica, Ga.)
A skilled and physical inside player that should provide UK with immediate depth at forward … Is a four-star prospect according to ESPN.com, ProspectsNation.com and All-Star Girls Report … ESPN.com ranks her as the 66th best player in the 2019 class and the eighth best at the forward position … In July, ESPN.com evaluated her as a “strong front court prospect that rebounds, handles and passes in transition; offensive game stretches the defense to the arc; hands that can catch and finish plays in traffic; agile stretch-4 performer with deceptive quickness on the perimeter and physical in the paint; rebounds and attacks coast-to-coast in up-tempo game; deep range threat complemented by dribble-drive attack; exploits mismatches” … Has been a star at Villa Rica High School under Tammy Norred as an Atlanta Journal Constitution First-Team All-State selection in 2017 and 2018 while she was honorable mention in 2016 … Averaged 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game as a junior adding 3.4 assists and 2.7 steals per game … Shined her sophomore season with 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game … Busted onto the scene with a dominating freshman season, averaging 25.8 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game … Was named the Georgia AAAAA Regional Player of the Year her freshman and sophomore seasons … Helped guide Villa Rica to the GHSA Girls State Final Four her junior year while the team made state tournament appearances her freshman and sophomore seasons … Picked Kentucky over Duke, Pittsburgh, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina State, Rutgers, St. John’s, Virginia, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech … Daughter of Cornelius and Veronica Merrill.
Matthew Mitchell on Deasia Merrill: “Deasia is such a dynamic player and is extremely versatile in her game. We were overjoyed when she chose to play for the Wildcats because we know she will fit in great and help our team immediately. Deasia brings so many different things to our team with her ability to really stretch the floor. She can score so many ways, including out on the perimeter, but can also go inside and be physical and finish. She’s going to be a real asset for our team for years to come.”
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.