Leave a legacy. This season, it’s a phrase Arizona head coach Adia Barnes has used often. The group of five who will take part in the Wildcats’ senior day ceremony have done that.
Lucia Alonso, Tee Tee Starks, Dominique McBryde, Aari McDonald and Amari Carter have each taken a different path to Arizona. Two of them will have rather unique experiences at senior day. All of them will have memories of being integral to putting Arizona women’s basketball back on the map.
Alonso was the first. The only four-year senior on this Arizona squad that has won 23 games and set one first after another.
“Lucia is my first recruit here in Arizona, so she’s special to me,” Barnes said. “She came to America for the first time when she came to Arizona. Didn’t speak any English. Kind of took a leap of faith. She was going to go to Florida before she ended up coming here. And she’s been through a lot with me. I mean, she’s kind of been by my side building this program.”
Alonso’s leap of faith paid off, because they have built quite a program. As an individual, Alonso has the highest career 3-point percentage in Arizona history at 40.2 percent and the eighth most 3s overall at 119.
Then, came the transfers. McDonald, Starks and McBryde. The walking bucket, the mama who hypes the bench and the on-court coach who teaches the young post players.
They were followed by Carter. The grad transfer left Penn State after a coaching change. The DC native had experienced only one winning season in her four years in Happy Valley, but found a home and success in Tucson.
McDonald and Starks will also take an uncommon path to senior day. Starks will participate in her second ceremony while McDonald will participate in the first of what fans hope will be two. Barnes stressed that no decision had been made about McDonald leaving for the WNBA draft with a year of eligibility left, however.
“She’s always planned on (participating in senior day),” Barnes said. “It wasn’t something that just came up. Because she’s graduating, so she wants to walk with her classmates. So everybody walking is graduating. Just like Tee Tee last year. Tee Tee walked and came back.”
Starks had planned to leave last year due to the toll the injuries were taking on her body. She came back after a change of heart which was announced after the WNIT championship.
If McDonald opts not to return, she will leave with her name all over the Arizona record books. In less than two years, she has climbed to No. 8 on the Wildcats’ all-time scoring list with 1,422 points. She will likely surpass both Ashley Whisonant (1,451) and Shawntinice Polk (1,467) to land at No. 6 by the end of the year. The 890 points she scored last season blew past the single-season record previously held by Barnes.
McDonald also owns three of the top five single-game scoring marks in program history. Her 44-point game at Texas this season is the highest-scoring game by any Wildcat. She has also had games of 39 and 35 points. The 39-point game ties her with Davellyn Whyte for the second-highest and the 35 point game is fifth in program history.
The personal achievements of each player have been integral to the team achievements, which are literally unheard of in Wildcat history. Their first top-four seed in the Pac-12 tournament under Barnes. A possible chance to host two rounds of the NCAA Tournament after not even being in the tournament for 15 years. Three wins over Top 10 teams so far this season, including the program’s first over a Top 5 team and the first over a Top 10 team on the road.
“No one would have thought that,” Barnes said. “I’m sure they didn’t even think that two years ago, because the year they sat out we had won six games. They all are just special in different ways.”
Arizona-California game details:
Date: Sunday, Mar. 1, 2020
Time: 12 p.m. MST
Location: McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.
Records: Arizona (23-5, 12-5), California (10-18, 2-15)
Rankings and ratings: Arizona is ranked No. 13 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today/WBCA polls. California is unranked.
Analytics site Her Hoop Stats rates the Golden Bears No. 135 and the Wildcats No. 18 overall. Cal is rated the No. 97 offense and the No. 196 defense. Arizona is the No. 33 offense and the No. 8 defense.
The official RPI has Cal at No. 145 and Arizona at No. 20.
Which channel is Arizona-California on?
The game will be aired live on Pac-12 Arizona.
How can I stream Arizona-California?
The stream will be available on Pac-12.com or the Pac-12 Now app on your mobile device, but only if you already subscribe to the Pac-12 Network. Click the “How to watch” button at the top of the link.
How can I listen to the radio call of Arizona-California?
Where can I find stats for Arizona-California?
Official stats are available on Arizona Live Stats both during and after the game.
How can I follow Arizona-California?
You can follow us on Twitter @AZDesertSwarm. You can also follow our editor @RKelapire and our reporter @KimDoss71 for coverage of Arizona women’s basketball on game day and every other day of the week.
Catch up with our coverage from this week
- Aari McDonald sinks game-winning layup to lift No. 13 Arizona past No. 4 Stanford
- Notebook: On Cate Reese’s health, Sam Thomas’ career night and finishing in the top four of the Pac-12
- Aari McDonald will participate in senior day, but is undecided about the WNBA draft
- Aari McDonald to play vs. Stanford
- Arizona falls in the polls after the loss to Colorado