Adia Barnes assumed the Arizona Wildcats were going to have plenty of depth this season, but it’s dwindling quickly just five games into the season.
Freshman forward Shalyse Smith is transferring from the program, I’m told. The former four-star recruit from Washington logged 14 minutes in three games with the Wildcats.
Smith was ranked as the No. 48 player in the 2018 class and No. 7 forward by Prospects Nation.
The news comes a week after sophomore forward Kiana Barkhoff announced her intention to transfer to be closer to home in Florida.
That’s not all. In the offseason, guards Sammy Fatkin (transfer) and Marlee Kyles (personal reasons) left the program, while five-star recruit Valeria Trucco opted to stay home and professionally in Italy instead of attending the UA.
Barnes isn’t surprised by all the player movement, especially the transfers. In October, the NCAA implemented a new rule that allows student-athletes to transfer to another school without asking their current school for permission, opening the floodgates to this sort of thing.
“There is going to be change and there has been a couple players that have changed and there will be more change,” Barnes said last week. “And you will see the new transfer rule will benefit us and it will hurt us.”
Though her roster is depleting, Barnes said she supports players who decide to head elsewhere.
“I love this place. This is a great place. We’ve recruited some awesome people and you have to want to be here,” she said. “It’s not for everybody. And it may be far from home, but that’s OK that you need to go closer to home. But I’m big on it is about the athletes’ experience. They need to be happy. If you’re not happy here, I don’t want you to be here. ... You need to be happy to play your best, so I support it.
“That’s the way it is because people have unrealistic expectations sometimes. Some people think they can go far away from home and then they’re here and it’s too far. It’s all those things and it changes. We’re talking about 17 to 19 year-olds. So I supported Kiana. I am going to help her in every way I can. I want her to be happy to play her best. I’m not the type of coach that is going to block her from going places. I didn’t block her from the Pac-12, I didn’t block her from anywhere because I want her to go where she can be her best as a young woman and be successful and that’s really important. I say that from the bottom of my heart.”