The Arizona Wildcats’ incoming freshman class is special, no matter who you ask.
Whether it’s HoopGurlz which pegs Cate Reese as the No. 12 overall player in 2018 or Prospects Nation with Valeria Trucco as the No. 3 international player, the recruiting sites agree that Arizona will be welcoming its most highly-rated female players in history this fall.
As with many Pac-12 teams, overseas recruiting has become important to the Arizona program under Adia Barnes. Of Prospects Nation’s top 25 international players, seven are on their way to play for Pac-12 teams.
While she finished her pre-college career at Palm Harbor High School in Florida, current Arizona sophomore Kiana Barkhoff developed in Germany. Junior guard Lucia Alonso hails from Spain.
In the 2019 class, Arizona is set to welcome Iceland’s Birna Benonysdottir and Latvia’s Mara Mote. This season, Trucco is the big catch from Europe.
Let’s get to know her.
Hometown: Turin, Italy
Club Team: Pallacanestro Torino
National Team/ Current Level: Italy U20
Height: 6’3” (though Barnes has said she is 6’4” or 6’5”)
|2018||U20 Women's European Championship||8.6||4.6||1.4|
|2017||U18 Women's European Championship (Div A)||3.7||3.6||0.7|
|2016||U18 Women's European Championship (Div A)||5.3||5.1||0.4|
|2016||U17 Women's World Championship||7||4.9||0.1|
|2015||U16 Women's European Championship (Div A)||8.1||6.7||0.6|
|2014||U16 Women's European Championship (Div A)||1||2.9||0.2|
Honors and Achievements
- Has played in Italy’s Serie A1 since 2016 when she was 17 years old
- Played for two teams, Treofan Battipaglia and Pallacanestro Torino
- 2018 was her fifth year playing in international competition for Italy
- Her team placed fourth at last month’s FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship
- Her team finished second at the 2016 FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship
- In 2017, the recruiting analyst for HoopGurlz referred to Trucco as a “finesse 4” with potential
- Noted for length and mobility
- Shoots consistently from inside the 3-point line
- Prospects Nation rates her as the No. 3 international player in the class and the best forward from overseas.
- She is rated a 5-star player by Prospects Nation
- HoopGurlz ranks her as the No. 19 forward overall and a 3-star recruit
- Keil Moore of Prospects Nation wrote last year that Trucco would probably be in the discussion for end-of-year all-star games like the McDonald’s All American Game if she played in the U.S.
- Plays center for her national and club teams, but is projected as a forward by recruiting analysts
- Video of her team’s games at last month’s U20 Women’s European Championship can be found on FIBA’s website
Trucco just wrapped up her pre-Arizona career with an appearance at FIBA’s U20 European Women’s Championships, where her team finished fourth after close losses to Serbia in the semifinals and the Netherlands in the third-place game.
Trucco is the youngest player on both her national and club teams. With older teammates, she may not be required to carry her team, but she certainly has it in her to take center stage. She showed that drive when she led Italy in scoring with 17 points against Slovakia during group play.
Outlook for 2018-19 and beyond
Arizona was starved for size last year, but that will no longer be the case beginning this season. A combination of returners, newly eligible transfers and strong recruiting should turn the inside into an area of strength for the Wildcats.
The team returns Destiny Graham for her senior season. They will also add redshirt junior Dominique McBryde, who sat out last year after transferring from Purdue.
On the recruiting front, they are bringing in Semaj Smith and Cate Reese to go along with Trucco this season.
Smith boasts strong defense and a conventional post game. Reese offers great rebounding and scoring. Trucco has similar skills to Reese, so she may find herself in competition with the McDonald’s All-American for minutes.
Early in the year, Reese will have the advantage of having spent the summer practicing in Tucson. In Trucco’s favor, her experience against older players on the international scene may make her more prepared for the rigors of the college game than her American teammates.
Regardless of whether Trucco plays center or forward, her mobility and length should help Arizona against the size they regularly face in the Pac-12. At the program’s most successful, the Wildcats were led by a strong inside game. Barnes may see that as the way to return to past success.
“She’s like a deadly 3-point shooter, really will stretch the defense, so she can play with Cate or Shalyse (Smith),” Barnes said last fall. “She’s also a very good passer and gives us more size. She can play against the 5s in our league.”
- Trucco will turn 19 in November. For the first time in a while, she won’t be the youngest player on her team this year.
- She was recruited by Salvo Coppa, husband and assistant of Adia Barnes, who is also from Italy
This was the last in our series of freshman profiles for the 2018-19 women’s team. If you missed the previous editions, read about Bryce Nixon, Cate Reese, Semaj Smith and Shalyse Smith—and keep an eye out for upcoming profiles on the transfers who will finally get in the game for Arizona this year.