Mabika Selected in First Round of MLS SuperDraft
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky redshirt senior Aimé Mabika was selected with the 26th pick in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by Inter Miami CF on Thursday.
The reigning Conference USA Player of the Year becomes the first Wildcat chosen in the draft’s opening round since JJ Williams in 2019.
“The amount of growth that I’ve seen in Aimé as a person and player was not even in my most optimistic projections in 2016,” said Kentucky head coach Johan Cedergren. “He could probably be one of the biggest steals in college soccer history. We’re extremely proud of him. He’s done unbelievably well for us the past five years. I believe there is a chance there for him to play early, and I know he will have a very long and successful professional career.”
Mabika enrolled at the University of Kentucky after a standout career at Lexington’s Henry Clay High School. The 6-foot-6 defender elected to redshirt his first season on campus, continuing to develop his game before engaging in collegiate competition.
Two short years later, the former walk-on was a United Soccer Coaches All-American.
It was during his 2018 breakout season that Mabika helped anchor Kentucky to its best campaign in program history. The Wildcats led the nation with 14 shutouts, won both the C-USA regular season and postseason tournament championships and produced a 19-2-1 record with an appearance in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship.
Mabika cemented his legacy as one of Kentucky’s all-time greats in 2019, when he was named C-USA Player of the Year and Co-Defensive MVP, as well as a back-to-back member of both the United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast Region and All-C-USA first teams.
His potential for a forthcoming professional career was affirmed with a selection to the inaugural MLS College Showcase that December.
Mabika opted to return to UK for an abbreviated fall slate in 2020, playing all 546 available minutes over the six-match span. The Cats peaked at No. 3 in the United Soccer Coaches rankings and closed the fall on a five-match winning streak.
Overall, the center back contributed to 28 shutouts by the UK defense, started 53 of 62 career appearances, scored 10 goals (including two game winners), recorded two assists and landed 16 of his 40 total shots on goal (.400).
Mabika joins an Inter Miami CF team coming off its inaugural MLS season. Introduced as the league’s 25th franchise under the name Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami in 2018, the Herons are led by first-year head coach Phil Neville under the guidance of team president and co-owner David Beckham.
Mabika is the second 2020-21 Wildcat to join the MLS ranks, as UK teammate Kalil ElMedkhar inked a two-year contract with FC Dallas in a trade for his Homegrown Rights last week.
For the latest on the Kentucky men’s soccer team, follow @UKMensSoccer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as on the web at UKAthletics.com.
For more information contact:
Connor Link (email@example.com) – (859) 257-3838