2017 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day: A second first year for Adia Barnes at Arizona
SAN FRANCISCO – Without a doubt, things are heading in the right direction in Tucson. In Adia Barnes’ first year at the helm, the Wildcats won two more conference games than the year before and wrapped up the Pac-12 regular season by winning three of their last five games, including a 62-58 win over rival and NCAA Tournament-bound Arizona State.
The future is even brighter – according to ProspectsNation.com, Arizona has the No. 2 recruiting class for the Class of 2018, not to mention a great haul of transfer students that Barnes considered the best transfer class in the country.
As such, there will be a lot of new faces coming to McKale Center this year and next. The Wildcats have just three returning players, meaning that the vast majority of the roster is comprised of players brought in by Barnes. In a way, it’s almost like the Adia Barnes Era is beginning again in her second year at the helm.
“In a lot of ways it does, because you have to teach a lot of new things.” Barnes said at Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day when asked about if this feels like another first year. “The first year you didn’t recruit the players so you have to adjust the way you coach them.”
Barnes noted that the four transfers will be a big buoy for the Wildcats; the only problem is that three of them – Aarion McDonald, Tee Tee Starks and Dominique McBryde – have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to transfer rules.
The one who can play, Kat Wright, is expected to bring some much-needed perimeter shooting to a team that shot just 29 percent from beyond the arc. Wright, a Florida Atlantic transfer, once hit 11 3-pointers in a game, marking the second-highest total in a single game in NCAA history. Wright said she was attracted to Arizona because of the culture created by Barnes, a job Barnes considers one of the most important she’s had in her first couple of years on the job.
“It was the coaching staff that really made me want to be a part of that program,” Wright said. “I only have a year to play here, but I can have pride in Arizona when I watch them on TV in the future.”
Picked to finish 11th in a 12-team conference that sent a record seven teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2017, the Wildcats might take some lumps in 2017-18. That said, there is no doubt the program is on an upward trajectory as Barnes continues to bring in top-notch talent that should build the foundation for future success.