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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has suspended star sophomore guard Makayla Epps after she was cited on alcohol-related charges in her hometown.
Epps, a first team all-Southeastern Conference selection last season after averaging 14.9 points and 4.6 rebounds, was cited last month by Lebanon, Kentucky, police for possession of alcohol by a minor and having an open alcohol container in a motor vehicle.
The Lebanon Enterprise reported that the 19-year-old faces a pretrial conference May 11 in Marion County District Court after pleading not guilty to the charges on April 27.
Mitchell did not specify what type of discipline Epps will face but said Wednesday that it will include at least a one-game suspension next season. The coach said she must train individually this summer and work on her decision-making.
"This is really about trying to help her as a person," Mitchell said during a news conference involving player and staff updates. "People have to know that alcohol, young people dealing with alcohol, just rarely ends well. ... We're just going to spend a lot of time helping her there."
The police citation states that Epps and another woman were parked at Graham Memorial Park at 1:48 a.m. on April 12. An officer smelled alcohol in the car and noticed an open can of Bud Light beer in the back seat, the report added.
Epps had slightly slurred speed and a strong smell of alcohol, the report said. A Breathalyzer test also showed the presence of alcohol but didn't list a reading.
The 5-foot-10 Epps, whose father Anthony was the starting point guard on Kentucky's 1996 national championship squad, is expected to be a major part for the Wildcats on both ends of the floor after emerging into a go-to player last season. She can play several positions, has a strong perimeter game and is a solid defender.
In citing all of Epps' assets, Mitchell also said good judgment must be part of the picture. He's hopeful that Epps will use the time away to grow on and off the court.
"Our players have to understand that they are the most visible group of young women in this state," Mitchell said, "and that there's a responsibility that comes with that. ...
"I have every hope that she will make good decisions throughout this process and come back stronger and better because I know she's capable of doing that."
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