Kentucky women’s basketball’s top incoming rookie is going to miss some time to begin her debut season.
On Tuesday morning, the program announced that 6-foot-4 freshman forward Tionna Herron is recovering from successful open-heart surgery that she underwent in late August. Herron, a native of Texas, came to UK as a four-star prospect and head coach Kyra Elzy’s top-ranked recruit from this cycle.
Herron is one of six incoming first-year players for Coach Elzy, who saw her roster undergo a massive change throughout the offseason with the addition of 10 new faces.
“Prior to Tionna arriving in Lexington in June, she was made aware of a structural abnormality involving her heart,” said Senior Athletic Trainer Courtney Jones, according to UK. “When she got to campus to begin her collegiate career, we consulted second opinions and surgical repair was recommended before returning to athletics at a high level. Tionna underwent successful open-heart surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, on Aug. 24, and she is in the process of recovering at her home in DeSoto, Texas.”
“Tionna is the definition of a warrior,” Elzy said in the team’s release. “When surgical repair was recommended, she was so intentional and mature in making her decision. Now, we are gratefully on the other side of her open-heart surgery and cheering her on as she begins her comeback. Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that game on attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program. Speaking for myself and the rest of the coaches, staff and players, we are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”
Expectations were going to be high for Herron coming into her freshman season in college. At 6-foot-4, she’s already the tallest player on the roster and has won at the highest level of high school basketball in the state of Texas. With so much turnover from last season’s roster, there was a decent chance Herron earned plenty of early-season minutes. Now, she’ll try to return to the hardwood before the season comes to an end.