#22 Arizona Women's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

Arizona Wildcats
Overall Rank: #22
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-12
 Arizona Logo
Arizona is coming off a program defining the 2020-2021 season. Coach Adia Barnes’ team finished 6-24 in 2017-2018. Three years later they were playing for a national title. The Wildcats beat Stony Brook, BYU, Texas A&M, Indiana and Connecticut enroute to the national championship game. Arizona dropped a heartbreaker to Stanford in the final, falling 54-53. Getting back to that point is tough, but this is now a program that can build off their recent success and stay towards the top of the Pac-12 year in and year out.
2020-21 Record: 21-6, 13-4
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Adia Barnes
Coach Record: 89-66 at Arizona, 89-66 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Aari McDonald, Guard, 20.6 ppg
Trinity Baptiste, Forward, 8.6 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Cate Reese, Senior, Forward, 10.9 ppg
Sam Thomas, Senior, Forward, 7.3 ppg
Shaina Pellington, Senior, Guard, 5.8 ppg
Bendu Yeaney, Senior, Guard, 4.1 ppg
Lauren Ware, Sophomore, Forward, 3.9 ppg
Helena Pueyo, Junior, Guard, 3.7 ppg
Madison Conner, Freshman, Guard, 1.0 ppg
Derin Erdogan, Sophomore, Guard, 1.0 ppg
Key New Players
Anna Gret Asi, Freshman, Guard
Taylor Chavez, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Oregon
Ariyah Copeland, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Alabama
Koi Love, Junior, Forward, Transfer from Vanderbilt
Gisela Sanchez, Freshman, Forward
Aaronette Vonleh, Freshman, Forward
Aari McDonald was taken with the third overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft and Arizona will struggle to replace her leadership and her 20.6 points per game. The focus will shift to the frontcourt with returning leading scorer Cate Reese leading the way. The 6-2 senior averaged 10.9 points and 5.1 rebounds and is developing into a very dangerous outside shooter. Fellow senior Sam Thomas is another forward who can stretch the defense with her outside shooting ability. Thomas also led the squad with 1.2 blocks per game. Lauren Ware had a very promising freshman campaign, averaging 3.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. The transfer portal has helped bolster Arizona’s frontcourt. Ariyah Copeland spent four seasons at Alabama and averaged an impressive 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds. Koi Love has had a couple great seasons at Vanderbilt. She only played in eight games last season, but averaged 20.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks. The backcourt returns starter Bendu Yeaney, who averaged 4.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Senior Shaina Pellington and junior Helena Pueyo are experienced guards, but Arizona will need to get some help from incoming freshman Madison Conner and Oregon transfer Taylor Chavez. Obviously, replacing McDonald will be extremely difficult, but as long as Arizona can find some leadership on the perimeter they will be back in the NCAA Tournament and looking again to make an impressive run.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.3 (134th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.3 (14, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.9 (131, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 36.9 (36, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (135, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.7 (75, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.1 (185, 9)
Rebound Margin: -0.7 (189, 9)
Assists Per Game: 11.5 (241, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (17, 2)
Madness 2022 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#14 Cate Reese
Madness 2021 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#49 Madison Conner
#128 Aaronette Vonleh