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A Visit with KK Deans: Florida’s leading scorer explains why she chose to transfer to Coach Yo and the Rebels

A Visit with KK Deans: Florida’s leading scorer explains why she chose to transfer to Coach Yo and the Rebels

OXFORD, Miss. — With the addition of Florida transfer guard KK Deans to the Ole Miss roster, head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has added not one, not two, but three impact transfers this portal cycle.

Deans joins Kennedy Todd-Williams and Kharyssa Richardson as transfers who are headed to Oxford, and she also joins Richardson as the second SEC transfer to come to Ole Miss.

Starring for the Gators last season, Deans led her team in both points and assists. On the year, she averaged 14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while starting 29 of 34 games. Her 38.3% three-point percentage this past year was fourth in the SEC. Deans will arrive in Oxford as a fifth-year senior.

Prior to spending last season with Florida, Deans attended West Virginia for her first three seasons. She earned honorable mention honors in the Big XII for two years as well as many other accolades during her time in the Mountain State. After starting her collegiate career in Almost Heaven she now finds herself in a ‘match made in heaven’ with Ole Miss.

The Rebel Walk was fortunate to spend some time with Deans recently and talked about what’s next for the high-energy guard. We learned more about her journey and how Ole Miss is going to prepare her for what comes next.

Meeting KK Deans

Growing up, Deans was an athlete early on in her life. She played a lot of soccer where it was clear she was faster than many of the other players. However, she and her family soon learned basketball was her true calling. As a two-year-old, Deans used to sit on her dad’s lap and watch basketball. One day when they were little, KK and her older brother were outside playing when KK first picked up a basketball. Her first shot went in — and it’s been all basketball since.

One could say Deans has spent much of her life as part of a basketball family. Former NBA player Delaney Rudd is her godfather. Rudd spent time playing for the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trailblazers while also enjoying a stellar career overseas. He is one of three players to have his number retired by ASVEL. The French club counts an incredible number of successful players in its ranks including Tony Parker, Victor Webanyama, and Theo Maledon. Rudd has also been inducted into the France Basketball Hall of Fame.

Deans began playing for Rudd starting in 8th grade in AAU. Later on she would join Rudd at Westridge Academy where Deans would help lead Westridge to the 2018 USA Prep Championship. She would continue her senior year undefeated at 27-0 and winning the NCSAA Div. 1 Championship.

Her prep career involved playing tougher competition along with a nationwide travel schedule. The assistance of Rudd, personal training, and hard work  has helped Deans form a professional approach to the game and her mindset.

Her brother would take her to some local runs and she continuously proved herself even when playing against men as she would knock down deep shots and demand respect on the court.

He definitely had a hand in getting me to where I am today. His tough coaching style helped me to make a smooth transition to college play.

KK Deans on the impact of Coach Delaney Rudd

Once she finished her prep career, Deans was rated as a top-50 player in her class and a five-star prospect by ESPN. She chose to attend West Virginia University where she was a star for the Mountaineers for three seasons. Making ESPN top 2 plays with the winning basket over Kansas State during the 2021 Big 12 tournament.

In her junior year, on January 29th 2022, Deans hit the floor with an injury during a home game against Baylor. In an instant she had torn both her ACL and meniscus. Deans wasn’t done playing, though, and she decided to enter the transfer portal and come back ready to play her best ball.

After that. I had surgery on Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t walk for six weeks…I had to relearn to walk and all those things. I wanted to make sure that the school I picked [transferred to] was going to push me, believe that I could come back, push me to reach my goal. The projected recovery time was a year. I didn’t want to do that.

KK Deans on her injury

Deans eventually chose to play at Florida under Kelly Rae Finley. The rehab was tough, but Deans knew she wanted to find a home that would push her to be the best she could be and to work hard every single day. For her, it was about coming back and coming back stronger. There would be challenges along the way, but Deans kept working tirelessly, doing rehab every day — sometimes twice a day just trying to get back to the court.

I didn’t even wanna try (a brace) on. I was actually ready and prepared in 7/8 months. They told me all these statistics I didn’t really care about… I really pushed myself everyday. It was tough. I had those days where I wondered if I was going to be that same player… It was a lot but I got through it. I surprised myself with the year I had [at UF].

KK Deans on her grueling recovery process

Deans would go on to lead Florida in scoring and assists this past season. The Gators finished with a 19-15 record and Deans recorded some of her best career statistics hitting the Florida record books as the fifth-best in 3 pointers made (77) in a single season.

However, with only one year of eligibility left, Deans has bigger goals she desires to attain.  She truly believes that with the right fit, the team that can help her become stronger and help prepare her for pro-ball can most definitely be the team she can help win a national championship.

Finding Ole Miss

Many were left in awe when Ole Miss knocked off No.1-seed Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels achieved a feat that only a select few of teams have been able to do in the round of 32. Coach Yo and her team continuously pushed their #NoCeilings identity and have begun to see it pay off in a big way.

On that night, the world was watching — and so was KK Deans.

Deans watched that game unbeknownst to her that a little bit into the future Ole Miss would be the next school she calls home.

She recalled what stood out to her about Ole Miss:

Their will to win, will to play together, will to defend, will to play for each other and play for a coach like her (Yo). Also, the confidence that Coach Yo put into them and what she did to put her team out there. When you ask people about Ole Miss, they are going to remember that game against Stanford and watching that was amazing. It gave a lot of people hope and motivation — that no matter what they say, who’s supposed to do something, no matter what you put your mind to, you can get that job done.” 

KK Deans on what she saw in Ole Miss

With Ole Miss losing high-caliber players like Angel Baker and Myah Taylor, Coach Yo had a need at the point guard position and she wanted someone who could also score at a high level. It didn’t take long for Yo and KK to get in touch, and once they did the two connected very quickly.

After a visit, Deans decided Ole Miss was where she wanted to be so she could elevate both herself and the Rebels’ program. This is where she wants to finish her college career and work to reach new heights for herself.

Coach Yo also shared with Deans the belief in how special she thinks Deans can be — but also that she has to work to do in order to get where she wants to be.

I think it is a match made in Heaven. I think we are similar, have the same high energy. I think we believe in each other… She told me to go work. Be a dog. Prove doubters wrong. It’s now or never. It’s my last year. Whatever goals I have, she wants me to see them… She’s going to have my back no matter what.

KK Deans on Coach Yo

The idea of playing for a program like Ole Miss — one that is seeing record highs and has a trajectory that only continues to point upward — can be enticing.

Coach Yo now has a culture around the Rebels’ program and it’s one that players want to come and be apart of. Seeing other transfer players come and shine and get opportunities to thrive is appealing. The growth of players like Angel Baker, Shakira Austin, Myah Taylor and more show that, and behind all of that has been Coach Yo continuously pushing her girls to be great.

I saw where they were heading, I saw the potential. I saw the excitement, and, of course, the success. I wanted to go somewhere where I fit. I feel I can complement what they do… I knew that my skill level needed tweaking and I needed a platform, to be pushed.. to be known as a player. She (Coach Yo) talks highly of her players, puts them out there and she really puts them in a position to be successful. She’s gonna turn me into a pro. On the court, off the court, she’s going to turn me into a pro. Mark my words.

KK Deans

The fifth-year senior brings a lot of excitement and shooting ability to the guard spot. She also has to be a veteran leader for Ole Miss and bring her high energy every single day. Deans is goal oriented and knows that this group is special.

I am very experienced at the point guard position and it’s going to be exciting to play with other talented basketball players. This team is special! The versatility is amazing.

KK Deans

Like Ole Miss, Deans wants that big-stage opportunity; she wants to go win a ring with her team, to have that 50/40/90 season, and as I talked to her on the night of the WNBA Draft, she wants to one day see herself at the next level, too.

From making her first shot as a kid, to being coached up by a former NBA veteran, to being in the high school prep finals, to excelling at WVU, to rehabbing back quickly from injury, to starring at Florida, Deans has always been focused on working hard to get to that next step. Now she’s ready to do it at Ole Miss.

Hotty Toddy!

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley is the Vice President of Operations and the Director of Community Relations for The Rebel Walk. He is also the Director of Basketball Content and Senior Basketball Writer. He has over five years of experience providing in-depth analysis of college basketball through multiple platforms. A former MBA graduate of Ole Miss, TJ started with The Rebel Walk in 2019.

About The Author

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley is the Vice President of Operations and the Director of Community Relations for The Rebel Walk. He is also the Director of Basketball Content and Senior Basketball Writer. He has over five years of experience providing in-depth analysis of college basketball through multiple platforms. A former MBA graduate of Ole Miss, TJ started with The Rebel Walk in 2019.

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