Kyra Elzy likes to rib Maddie Scherr for making the head coach sweat out her recruitment a second time around. Scherr, who hails from Florence, KY, was a five-star prospect out of Ryle High School and surprisingly chose the Oregon Ducks in 2020 over many in-state options.
But once Scherr put her name in the transfer portal during the offseason, Elzy wasn’t going to miss out again, even if Scherr did make Elzy wait until the very last second. Scherr signed with UK in May and immediately became one of the team’s top players before ever putting on a Wildcats jersey.
So what should the Big Blue Nation expect out of Scherr entering the 2022-23 season? During her two years at Oregon, the versatile 5-foot-11 guard was a steady contributor for the Ducks. Scherr averaged 2.3 points in just 15.2 minutes per game as a freshman, but she really stepped into her own as a sophomore. The Bluegrass native averaged 4.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while starting 28 of the 31 games she appeared in.
For Kentucky WBB to prevent a significant dropoff from last season’s SEC Championship squad, Scherr will need to produce at an even more consistent rate. But Elzy, entering her third season as the Wildcats’ head coach, is confident Scherr can step right in and impact the team. Scherr has the “it” factor, Elzy says.
“We have four big transfers. Maddie Scherr is one of those,” Elzy said this week at SEC Media Day. “She has the “it” factor. For her to come home and play at the University of Kentucky, she makes us different.”
Scherr is one of 10 new faces within the program. Four transfers and six rookies join the five returnees from last year’s 2021-22 squad. There was an unexpected amount of roster turnover, and Scherr will be relied upon to help keep some of the remaining continuity alive. Luckily, her head coach has already instilled a vote of confidence. So have her new teammates.
“She’s just a great player to play with, honestly. We’re both competitors, we like to win,” Kentucky sophomore G Jada Walker said at SEC Media Day. “We’re never on the same team (in practice). So when we are we get so excited because we’re two different players. Like I’m fast-paced, want to score. She is very deliberate, very smart, poised, she’s been at the high level at Oregon for a long time. So I learn from her, sometimes she learns from me, and then we put it together when we’re on the same team and it’s amazing.”
Scherr has a point guard’s mind with a forward’s height who plays at her own pace. You can’t speed her up just as can’t slow her down. Her knockdown 3-point shooting has been one of the many topics surrounding offseason practices. Scherr is about as versatile as they can get for a lead ball handler.
Which is quite the opposite of who she’ll be working alongside in the backcourt. Jada Walker, as she mentioned above, is all about playing with speed. It’s what made her an impact player from day one as a rookie last season and eventually led her to making the All-SEC Freshman Team.
Scherr and Walker playing together will make for some interesting ying and yang chemistry, and that doesn’t even take into account South Carolina transfer G Eniya Russell, who might the best overall prospect on the roster. After losing an elite guard in Rhyne Howard to the WNBA, Kentucky’s backcourt might actually be its strength this season.
“Maddie, she just knows what’s going on. She has a high IQ, she gets everyone involved,” Kentucky graduate student G Blair Green said at SEC Media Day. “I feel like we all have a really good connection, chemistry on the court. Her and Jada (Walker) are very different. Jada is more of like a fast-tempo, let’s get a quick score in transition. And Maddie is more of a let’s slow it down, let’s get into something, let’s run something. Them together, complement each other really well and make us very versatile in how we play. So Maddie is doing great. She’s really coming in confident and she’s awesome to be around.”