Who are Kentucky’s top 25 girls’ high school basketball players for 2022-23?

Below is the preseason top-25 ranking of Kentucky high school girls’ basketball players for the 2022-23 season, as voted on by coaches in a statewide survey conducted by the Lexington Herald-Leader/Kentucky.com.

The poll asked every coach to rank their “top 10 players in the state.”

Tabulating the results, the Herald-Leader lists the overall top 10 along with school, grade level, height, last season’s points per game (in parentheses) and a brief comment. The next 15 players are listed with their school, grade level and last season’s points per game along with their choice of college, if known. All players appearing on at least two ballots received honorable mention.

Sacred Heart’s ZaKiyah Johnson (11) looks to move the ball as Cooper’s Kay Freihofer (20) defends during the semifinals of the 2022 Mingua Beef Jerky Girls’ Basketball Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena on March 12.
Sacred Heart’s ZaKiyah Johnson (11) looks to move the ball as Cooper’s Kay Freihofer (20) defends during the semifinals of the 2022 Mingua Beef Jerky Girls’ Basketball Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena on March 12.

TOP 10 PLAYERS

1. ZaKiyah Johnson, Sacred Heart (6-0 So., 17.7 points): Johnson, a five-star recruit who ranks No. 2 on the 2025 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings, holds offers from dozens of Division I programs, including heavyweights South Carolina and Connecticut. As a freshman, she led the back-to-back Girls’ Sweet 16 champions in scoring and rebounding (7.6) and was named the 2022 state tournament’s MVP and the Gatorade girls’ basketball player of the year. She’s part of a rock-solid nucleus for the Valkyries that makes them almost a runaway favorite for the state title again this year. Twitter: @ZJohnson_06.

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2. Leah Macy, Mercy (6-2 So., 20.1 points): Macy also ranks as one of the top high school prospects in Kentucky for the class of 2025 or any year. A four-star recruit, she’s No. 17 on the 2025 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings after a freshman campaign in which she led the Jaguars in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double (12.3 rebounds) for the 6th Region runners-up. Her impressive list of college offers includes Louisville, Kentucky and Tennessee. Twitter: @leahcmacy.

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3. Haven Ford, Rowan County (5-7 Sr., 20.4 points): Ford nearly averaged a double-double for a second year in a row as a junior (9.7 rebounds) and has led the Vikings in scoring since eighth grade. The Murray State commit helped Rowan to its third straight 61st District championship last year. Coach Matt Stokes believes he has “the best guard in the state.” Twitter: @HavenFord4.

4. Brianna Byars, Clark County (5-11 Sr., 15.1 points): A double-figure scorer since her freshman year, Byars helped the Cardinals reclaim the 10th Region title last year and has been part of three Sweet 16 teams, two that have reached the quarterfinals. The Cincinnati signee averaged 5.1 rebounds per game last season. Twitter: @brianna_byars.

5. Triniti Ralston, Sacred Heart (5-8 Sr., 8.4 points): The primary ball-handler and a lock-down defender for two state champions, Ralston was named to the Sweet 16 all-tournament team each of the last two years and was a Herald-Leader All-State third-team selection in 2022. The uncommitted guard’s college offers include Buffalo. Twitter: @ShuriTitanium.

Mercer County’s Timberlynn Yeast wins the girls’ 200-meter dash at the KHSAA Class 2A state championships on June 3.
Mercer County’s Timberlynn Yeast wins the girls’ 200-meter dash at the KHSAA Class 2A state championships on June 3.

6. Timberlynn Yeast, Mercer County (5-10 Sr., 20.9 points): A part of the Titans’ state championship track and field teams in 2019 and 2022, Yeast won last year’s Class 2A 200-meter and 400-meter races, setting a 2A record in the 200. She’s pretty fair on the court, too. The Titans’ leading scorer since eighth grade, the Buffalo commit “has the ability to take over a game offensively and defensively,” Coach Hayley Spivey said. Twitter: @TYeast.

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7. Destiny Thomas, McCracken County (5-10 Sr., 18.0 points): Coming off a knee injury that cost her a season, Thomas came back to have her best year yet as a junior, leading the Mustangs in scoring and rebounding (6.0 rebounds) and helping them claim the school’s first girls’ 1st Region championship. Coach Scott Sivills says his Murray State signee “can play all five positions on the floor.” Twitter: @desthomass.

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8. Kensley Feltner, Lawrence County (5-9 Sr., 26.9 points): The state’s leading scorer last season, Feltner, a Belmont signee, has topped 3,000 points and grabbed more than 1,200 rebounds for her career and was a first-team Herald-Leader All-State selection. “She’ll have a load on her shoulders again,” mother and coach Melinda Feltner said. “She does so much for our team besides scoring.” Twitter: @kfelt_1.

9. Meadow Tisdale, Bowling Green (5-11 Sr., 15.5 points): Tisdale, a Northern Kentucky commit, has played a significant role in the Purples’ three straight 4th Region titles and led Bowling Green in scoring and rebounding last year (7.3 rebounds), earning a Herald-Leader All-State second-team selection. Twitter: @meadowtisdale.

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10. Jakayla Thompson, Manual (5-8 Sr., 15.7 points): Thompson, a Buffalo signee, helped the Crimsons win the 25th District and reach the 7th Region finals where they lost to eventual Sweet 16 champion Sacred Heart. She also averaged 6.1 rebounds per game last year. Twitter: @JakaylaThompso4.

THE NEXT 15

11. Ciara Byars, Clark County (6-2 So., 17.5 points): Uncommitted.

12. Abby Holtman, Ryle (6-0 Sr., 15.0 points): Cincinnati.

13. Trinity Rowe, Pikeville (5-7 Jr., 15.9 points): Uncommitted.

14. Whitney Lind, Cooper (6-2 Sr., 16.7 points): Lehigh.

15. Shaelyn Steele, Russell (5-5 Jr., 21.9 points): Uncommitted.

16. Peyton Bradley, Meade County (5-9 So., 19.3 points): Uncommitted.

17. Audrey Biggs, Boyd County (6-0 Jr., 17.5 points): Uncommitted.

18. Reagan Bender, Sacred Heart (5-10 Jr., 11.4 points): Uncommitted.

19. Amaya Asher, Central (5-6 Sr., 11.3 points): Illinois Springfield.

20. Grace Mbugua, Danville Christian (6-4 So., 16.9 points): Uncommitted.

21. Lainey Johnson, Anderson County (6-0 So., 8.5 points): Uncommitted.

22. Claire Johnson, McCracken County (5-9 Jr., 13.5 points): Uncommitted.

23. Laken Williams, Martin County (5-6 Jr., 17.5 points): Uncommitted.

24. Saniyah Shelton, Bowling Green (5-11 Sr., 8.6 points): Eastern Kentucky.

25. Jarie Thomas, Henderson County (5-11 Sr., 14.4 points): Uncommitted.

HONORABLE MENTION

Players who appeared on at least two coaches’ top 10s, listed in points order: Angelina Pelayo, Sacred Heart; Anna Hamilton, Conner; Xaviara Smalley, John Hardin; Sydney Martin, Pulaski County; Graci Risley, Henderson County; Halle Collins, Knox Central; Katie Pantaliono, Woodford County; and Ramiya White, Butler.

METHODOLOGY

Our annual survey was emailed to all 272 KHSAA girls’ basketball coaches in Kentucky, using their email registered with the KHSAA. Multiple attempts were made to encourage every school to participate. Coaches were asked to select their top 10 players and points were assigned based on a player’s position on the ballot (10 points for No. 1, nine points for No. 2, eight points for No. 3, etc.), and tabulated across all ballots received; some schools participated in the survey but declined to vote due to unfamiliarity with players and teams outside of their own area. A total of 77 coaches (28.3 percent) voted in our top-10 players poll out of the 147 coaches (54 percent) who responded to the survey and supplied information about their teams.

2022-23 SEASON PREVIEW

This is the fourth of eight stories the Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com is publishing in the coming days previewing the 2022-23 high school boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons, which are scheduled to tip off Nov. 29.