South Charlotte

Winthrop’s Aliyah Kilpatrick bounces back, gains attention

This time a year ago, Aliyah Kilpatrick was going through an arduous rehabilitation process to strengthen a torn Achilles tendon that had derailed what was expected to be a promising season at Winthrop.

“It was long,” said the reigning Big South Conference Freshman of the Year of the rehab. “But I think the fact our team was doing so well during the season and we won the Big South Championship made it easier to deal with. I am just glad to back on the court and playing.”

So are her teammates.

The 5-foot-8 guard has averaged 13 points, shot 14-of-16 from the free throw line and knocked down 50 percent of her shots to lead the Eagles to wins over North Carolina Central University and Southeastern Conference foe Auburn. For that performance, she recently earned Big South Women’s Co-Player of the Week.

“It felt good knowing that all my hard work isn’t going unnoticed. But honestly, I just want to play the game because I love it and play hard; I just want my team to win,” she said.

Also in those games, sophomore Erica Williams scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help Winthrop in the win against N.C. Central. She followed that performance with nine points and six rebounds against Auburn.

Kilpatrick, affectionately known as “AK,” is fourth on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game. She also leads the team with 13 steals per game.

The red-shirt sophomore says she feels fresher, stronger and hasn’t lost a step.

“The injury made me a lot quicker actually. I didn’t have to adjust my game too much. I still like driving to the basket,” she said.