Former Kentucky Wildcat star Makayla Epps has played basketball all over the country, but this weekend will be her first trip to Hopkinsville as she's teaming up with former Christian County standout Corey Wilford for the Big Game Nation Confidence Building Skills Camp.

The camp runs Friday through Sunday at the Planters Bank-Jennie Stuart Health Sportsplex in Hopkinsville. Cost is $30 per day or $75 for all three days.

On Friday and Saturday, the camp is from 9 a.m. to noon while it's from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For the 2013 Miss Basketball winner from Marion County, it's a chance to teach the sport she loves yet again.

"Anything I can do to give back to the kids, to the youth, I'm going to do it," she said. "Especially on the aspect of basketball. I'm definitely going to make that trip. I've never been to Hopkinsville. I've never been doing there so that really strikes some interest as well.

"I've had fans contact me through social media from that area always saying they wish they could meet me and stuff like that … I'm excited to get down there for the first time."

Epps has already participated in a few camps this summer and has a few more on her schedule after this weekend.

Epps hails from Lebanon, where she said not many high-level athletes come from the area.

See Epps/Page B3

"Giving back is something that should be done," she said. "I'm from a small town. The kids that go there, live there, not a lot of pros or famous people, whatever you want to classify me as, come from there. To be a hometown hero from a small town, it's just surreal. At 24, I still sometimes forget. Years out of UK, years out of the league, people still have that same enthusiasm, that same excitement when they see me. Anything I can do to give back.

"It's basketball, something I love as well. To see the kids get better and be the next hometown hero, to be the next thing, to get a college scholarship, to play high school ball, whatever their dreams may me, I'm going to help them as much as I can."

At 24, Epps has already done a lot in her hoops career. She was an All-American for the Wildcats and was also drafted 33rd overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky.

She said she's spoken to classes before and always hears the same responses when she asks what kids want to do when they grow up.

Then she tells them her story.

"I tell people all the time, when I was a kid, I had a dream," she said. "As a kid, everybody wants to be pro basketball. You ask a classroom full of kids, half the room is going to say a pro athlete, pro this, pro that. I was one of those kids."

Epps isn't the only hooper to make it out of Marion County as her father's name may be familiar to most in the bluegrass.

Her dad, Anthony Epps, was on the 1996 Wildcat team that won a national championship.

"I knew he had his legacy," she said. "He did big things for Marion County, for Kentucky. Then 13 years later, I do it for Marion County and then I end up going to Kentucky. It's really crazy how life works out sometimes."

Epps said her and her father own many of the same records and it's a feeling of pride that they both succeeded.

"We always joked about it at UK because he always told me he still had me beat because he said he had a national (championship," she said. "I said 'you're right. I can't argue with you.'"

She said she's still got the McDonald's All-American Team and a Gatorade Player of the Year under her belt, but she added she never felt any need to excel because of her father.

"He didn't add a lot of pressure to me," she said. "He let me do it the way I wanted to do it. He didn't make me do it a certain way … People talked about it more."

Less than a week ago, Epps joined the Woodford County girls' basketball program as an assistant coach under fellow former Wildcat Erik Daniels. The other assistant is another former Kentucky player in Antwain Barbour.

"That's just so crazy to me," she said. "There's no other staff like that in the state of Kentucky."

Epps said was most recently the middle school boy's coach in Marion County and she admitted it was different.

"I gave it to them straight, raw and uncut," she said. "They appreciated that. Their parents appreciated it. The teaches at the school appreciated it. I was hard on them, I know what it takes to get there."

Epps is excited to return to the area that gave her so much as she'll just be down of the road of the place she called home for four years.

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