Since its first crowning in 1976 when Donna Murphy of Newport was named the inaugural winner, Miss Kentucky Basketball has honored the state’s top talent.
And the majority of Miss Kentucky Basketball winners have elected to stay and play basketball in-state at some point in their college careers, whether they started in-state or made the decision to transfer home.
When the 2021 Miss Kentucky Basketball, Brooklynn Miles (Franklin County), announced her commitment to transfer from Tennessee to UK recently, she gave the Wildcats a first.
Throughout the history of the award, UK specifically has rostered a plurality of the winners, with Miles’ commitment marking a total of 14. The Wildcats’ 2023-24 roster will also boast Maddie Scherr (2020, Ryle) and Amiya Jenkins (2022, Anderson County).
The last — and only — time UK could claim three consecutive winners was 2005-2007, but those winners never played together on the same roster. The 2005 winner, Carly Ormerod (Sacred Heart), spent four seasons with the Wildcats, but Arnika Brown (2006, Christian County) left Lexington to take time off from basketball after a few weeks on campus. UK did secure a commitment from 2007 winner Rebecca Gray, but she arrived only after a freshman season at North Carolina.
Current UK head coach Kyra Elzy, a Kentucky native herself, graduated from Oldham County in 1996. Elzy’s roster last season included five Kentuckians: Scherr and Jenkins, as well as Blair Green (Harlan County), Emma King (Lincoln County) and Cassidy Rowe (Shelby Valley).
Elzy has been adamant about what it means to have homegrown talent on the UK roster. Just last week, upon the announcement of Miles’ signing, Elzy’s statement included the following: “The coaching staff and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Brooklynn back home. She is a proud hometown girl who understands the responsibility of wearing Kentucky across her chest. Not to mention, she’ll join Amiya and Maddie as a trio of Miss Kentucky Basketball honorees on one team!”
Despite the fact that, of the three winners on next year’s roster, only Jenkins chose UK as her first stop — with Scherr starting her career at Oregon and Miles transferring after two seasons as a Lady Vol — Elzy’s ability to bring in and keep three consecutive Miss Kentucky Basketball honorees in Lexington is a shift from what the program has managed to do in the past.
The Wildcats, who have filled 12 of their 15 available scholarship spots for next season, will look to rebound in 2023-24 after a disappointing 12-19 (2-14 SEC) record in Elzy’s third campaign at the helm in 2022-23.
Kentucky Miss Basketball facts
Most-popular destinations for Miss Kentucky Basketball winners:
14 —University of Kentucky
13 — Western Kentucky University
4 — University of Louisville
Four winners have been selected in the WNBA Draft:
2009 winner A’dia Mathies was selected 10th overall in the first round by the Los Angeles Sparks out of UK in 2013.
2004 winner Crystal Kelly was selected 31st overall in the third round by the Houston Comets out of WKU in 2008.
1995 winner Ukari Figgs was selected 28th overall in the third round by the Los Angeles Sparks out of Purdue in 1999.
1989 winner Lisa Harrison out of the University of Tennessee became the first Miss Kentucky Basketball winner drafted to the WNBA when she was selected 34th overall in the third round by the Phoenix Mercury in 1999.
See the complete list of Miss Kentucky Basketball winners, and where they played, below:
Caroline Makauskas is a sports reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. She covers Kentucky women’s basketball and other sports around Central Kentucky. Born and raised in Illinois, Caroline graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in Journalism and Radio/Television/Film in May 2020.