« Women’s Basketball 2016-17

Evelyn Akhator

School

University of Kentucky

Position
Forward
Major
Community Leadership and Development

Classroom

Evelyn Akhator is an exceptional student with a 3.4 GPA, majoring in community leadership and development. She aspires to be a nurse because she wants to help people and has spent several hours shadowing at the UK Hospital to learn the profession. Last season, she was named to the Southeastern Conference First-Year Academic Honor Roll, and her strong work in the classroom helped Kentucky post a 3.077 team GPA last fall and an impressive 3.463 team GPA during the spring semester. Akhator has said one of the reasons she chose Kentucky was because of the academic path that was presented to her when she met with the head of UK’s nursing department on her official visit. She stayed on campus during the summer of 2016 to participate in summer school while going through summer conditioning.

Character

Akhator is considered by UK Head Coach Matthew Mitchell to be one of the highest character human beings he has ever coached at Kentucky and considered by her teammates to be the ultimate teammate and leader. After her mother passed away a few weeks before her 18th birthday, she quit playing basketball, but she was encouraged to play for her mother and eventually earned a spot at Chipola Junior College before transferring to Kentucky. She sends a majority of her cost-of-attendance checks home to her family in Nigeria, and told the Lexington Herald-Leader, “It helps my whole family. That’s one thing my mom would want. My elder sister is a mother, so I try to be the breadwinner. I know it’s really hard back home. I’m not really worried about myself. I know I’m going to make it. I just worry about my family. Whatever I have, I make sure I send it home”

Akhator was given Chipola’s 2015 Neal Sportsmanship Award, which is an award that honors unwavering leadership contributions. She is very active in her church in Lexington, participating in special programs and speaking about her faith. More about her story can be found at http://www.kentucky.com/sports/college/kentucky-sports/uk-basketball-women/article66933827.html

Community

Akhator has been very active in the Lexington community since arriving on campus last summer. Each of the last two years, she has packed backpacks for God’s Pantry Backpack Program, which provides local elementary school students with food over the weekend when school meals are not available. Most recently, Akhator spent three hours packing food for families at God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington and helped gather items for a Louisiana Flood Relief drive on campus. She is a frequent visitor at One Parent Scholar Home, which is a program for single parents who are full-time students in post-secondary education, helping parents and their young children develop educational and family life skills needed to achieve self-sufficiency. Akhator spent four hours last fall volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild a playground in Lexington for children and has spent time playing games and conversing with residents at Brookdale Richmond Place nursing home. She also visited a local elementary school in Jacksonville, Fla., last year during the SEC Tournament.

Competition

Akhator showed her transition from junior college would not be an issue, starting all 33 games in 2015-16, leading UK in rebounds and blocks and finishing third in steals and points. She earned All-SEC Second Team honors by league coaches and the AP and was named the SEC Player of the Week after averaging 15.0 ppg and 13.5 rpg to help UK end the regular season on a six-game winning streak. Her performances against Missouri and Texas A&M also led her to be named in the NCAA Starting Five on March 1. Akhator finished the year with 13 double-doubles, ranking 12th all-time in school history in career double-doubles, and ended the season averaging 11.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg, and hitting a team-best 156 of 306 (.510) from the field. She had 316 total rebounds, which was the seventh most in a season in UK history, while her 9.3rpg ranked eighth in a single season. She tied for ninth-best in program history by posting a three-game double-double streak, scored 10-plus points in 24 games (including seven 15-plus point games), and led Kentucky in scoring six times, rebounding 21 times, steals eight times and blocks 11 times. She had a stretch of five straight games with double-figure scoring, including an incredible performance against Texas A&M, where she scored 15 points with 18 total rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass. And in the SEC Tournament, she recorded two double-doubles with 15 points and 13 rebounds against LSU and 12 points and 11 rebounds against Florida.