2018 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day: Freshmen, transfers provide talent boost to Pac-12
SAN FRANCISCO – Pac-12 women’s basketball has been on an upward swing the last half decade, solidifying itself as one of the deepest leagues in the country. The Pac-12 has sent at least five teams to the NCAA Tournament each of the last five seasons and has seen four different teams make the Final Four over the last six years.
And, considering who is entering the Conference of Champions for the 2018-19 campaign, don’t expect that to change anytime soon. In fact, the Pac-12 figures to only get deeper thanks to celebrated freshmen and potentially high-impact transfers scattered all throughout the conference.
Eleven Pac-12 schools produced a top-50 recruiting class in the country according to Prospects Nation, with five in the top 25 and seven in the top 35.
You don’t have to look too far up the 2017-18 standings to see potential game changers. Arizona, which finished 11th in the Pac-12 last season, is bringing in the top-ranked recruiting class in the conference and fifth-best class in the nation. Granted, the rankings were released before top international prospect Valeria Trucco announced she would play professionally in Italy, but head coach Adia Barnes is still bringing in four four-star recruits, including Cate Reese, the program’s first ever McDonald’s All-American.
“My main thing was to recruit players to fit what we do and just fit everything that we’re about,” Barnes said at 2018 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. “I think what we have, the four freshmen, we’re excited. There’s definitely a difference in our freshmen last year versus this year just as far as the group and the culture and everything.”
Also helping the Wildcats’ cause in 2018-19 will be three transfers from power-conference schools who had to sit out last year in Aarion McDonald (Washington), Dominique McBryde (Purdue) and Tee Tee Starks (Iowa State).
“The bad thing about last year was every day in practice I got to see Aarion, Tee Tee and Dominique play and just kick the butts of the team and I was like, if you could only play,” Barnes said. “I’m just excited because they all grew in the year they were out. They all improved on their body, they improved on their game.”
Arizona is far from the only school to be bringing in 2018-19 eligible transfers from major national players. Highlighting the transfer list are Oregon’s Erin Boley, the 2016 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year who played one year at Notre Dame, Oregon State’s Destiny Slocum, the 2016-17 WBCA National Freshman of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the Year while hooping for Maryland, and USC’s Mariya Moore, a second-team All-ACC selection as a junior at Louisville.
In all, there are eight transfers from power-conference schools that will be eligible for their first season at their new school, and this doesn’t include USC’s Cheyanne Wallace, who led LMU in scoring last season, and Utah’s Sarah Porter, who started who her collegiate career at Ole Miss before transferring to UC Santa Barbara and averaging double figures for the Gauchos one season.
“There is going to be some high-impact transfers in this conference and they’re going to play well right away,” USC head coach Mark Trakh said. “I really believe that.”
Yes, players like UCLA’s Jordin Canada and Monique Billings, Oregon State’s Marie Gülich, Cal’s Mikayla Cowling and Stanford’s Brittany McPhee will be missed, but you can expect a new crop of players to fill the void.