Kentucky WBB seniors reflect on their time as Wildcats

Grant Grubbsby:Grant Grubbs02/27/23

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Senior Day didn’t go to plan for Kentucky women basketball’s veterans on Sunday afternoon. Luckily for them, their minds are filled with enough memories to make up for the loss.

After falling 83-63 to Tennessee, UK seniors Adebola Adeyeye, Robyn Benton and Blair Green entered the press room with mixed emotions. As usual, Adeyeye had a gigantic smile on her face. Benton was seemingly torn between anger and joy, and Green was still wiping tears from her face.

The reactions make sense. Green committed to Kentucky in September 2016 and hasn’t taken off the Blue and White since. On a slightly different path, Benton transferred to UK from Auburn ahead of the 2020-2021 season. The 5-foot-7 guard was pivotal in the Cats’ SEC Tournament run last season and leads UK in scoring this year. As for Adeyeye, she joined Kentucky this summer as a graduate transfer after four years at Buffalo.

Fittingly, each of these Cats had different takes on the big day.

Blair Green remembers her time at Kentucky

When Green’s cloudy eyes finally cleared, the Harlan County native reflected on her Kentucky career coming to a close.

“It’s just like all the memories that’s been made in here, all the victories and all the highs and lows,” Green said during the postgame press conference. “Me and Nene, one of the coaches, she would take me up to the very top [of Memorial Coliseum] and we would just look back on some of the things that have happened over the years.”

Green was a front-row witness for five years of history in Memorial Coliseum. She’s followed the leadership of players such as Makayla Epps and Rhyne Howard. She’s been in the huddles of both Matthew Mitchell and Kyra Elzy. However, when Green was asked to list her favorite memories in Memorial, she discussed the opponents her teams defeated.

“Definitely, when we hit the game-winner against Arkansas. Vanderbilt, when I had to play point guard and we pulled that one out,” Green recalled. “Texas A&M, we beat them. They were like top five.”

Robyn Benton says her goodbyes with swagger

Benton wasn’t always there to share memories with Green, but she’s left quite an impression on BBN. “Primetime” is known for her highlight plays, and she’ll let you know about them. Whether it’s telling the crowd to pipe down after draining a 3 or mean-mugging the camera after a fastbreak block, Benton leaves an impact on any fans who watch her.

She made sure to do the same during her last performance in Memorial Coliseum.

I went out the way I wanted to go out – in the black uniforms, my Jordan socks, my Kobe shoes, my hair slicked back. I went out guns blazing, and I’ll have some memories in Memorial that I’ll never forget. I’m just thankful and grateful that I had this moment,” Benton said following the game.

Benton’s final play in the building couldn’t be more fitting. The athletic guard chased down a Tennessee Volunteer and swatted her shot from behind. A moment later, a whistle pierced the air. With a minute and a half left in the game, Benton fouled out. The competitive Cat discussed the moment following the loss.

“It wasn’t a foul. I’m telling you, I’m telling you – I don’t know what it is with these referees,” Benton said. “I wanted to go out with a bang and I felt like I did.

Adebola Adeyeye feels blessed to be a Wildcat

While Adeyeye’s final moment in Memorial Coliseum wasn’t as memorable, the Buffalo transfer won’t ever forget her short stint at UK.

“Honestly, just being able to play in that type of gym and the environment with the fans who don’t give up on us, who keep coming, who keep cheering, they just keep giving us energy. It’s honestly has been a blessing and just being able to be in this type of environment,” Adeyeye said.

The environment was undoubtedly a new experience for Adeyeye. During the 6-foot-2 forward’s time at Buffalo, the 2,196-seat Koessler Athletic Center was home. The building might as well be a middle-school gym when compared to Memorial Coliseum, which holds over 8,000 people.

The change felt like a dream come true for Adeyeye.

“It just feels so surreal as a kid from Canada who like nobody really believed in. The staff believed in me, the team believed in me, the fans believed in me and they just kept on pouring out, so I’m eternally grateful to the Big Blue Nation.”

Although every senior is grateful for their time at UK, they’re not ready for it to be over. Set to face 11-seed Florida in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday afternoon, Green is looking to extend the season every second possible.

“It just hit that it was the end for Memorial. But, at the same time, just keeping our mindset it might be the last game in Memorial but it’s not our last game with the Kentucky jersey on. We’ll definitely carry it on.”

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