Five-star post player Valeria Trucco is signing professionally in Italy and won’t be joining the Arizona Wildcats as initially planned, according to a UA spokesman.
The 6-foot-4 Italian was the No. 3 international recruit in the 2018 class, per Prospects Nation. She was expected to bolster UA’s frontcourt for years to come.
Trucco committed to the Wildcats in June 2017 and signed last November as a key piece in UA’s historic recruiting class. Her decision to turn pro has been in the works for a while, as she never made it to campus when UA’s freshmen first reported this summer.
Trucco signed with Pallacanestro Torino — her club and hometown team.
“She’s like a deadly 3-point shooter, really will stretch the defense, so she can play with Cate (Reese) or Shalyse (Smith),” UA head coach Adia 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.”
Arizona’s frontcourt now consists of Destiny Graham, Sam Thomas, Dominique McBryde, Cate Reese, Kiana Barkhoff, Shalyse Smith and Semaj Smith.
Thomas and McBryde are the key returners. Thomas, a versatile 6-foot forward, was named to the All-Pac-12 Freshman team last season after averaging 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game.
McBryde, a 6-foot-2 transfer from Purdue, sat out last season due to NCAA rules, but is expected to be one of Arizona’s top players in 2018-19. She was an All-Big Ten honorable mention in her sophomore season at Purdue.
The 6-foot-3 Graham started in every game last season, averaging 8.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. Barkhoff, a 6-foot-3 center, only averaged 5.9 minutes per game, but showed potential as a rim-protector toward the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Reese was Arizona’s first ever McDonald’s All-American and Shalyse and Semaj Smith were highly-rated recruits in their own right, the latter being a five-star prospect.
So losing Trucco hurts, but the Wildcats still have more talent and depth in their frontcourt than in Barnes’ first two seasons at the helm.
Plus, Washington transfer point guard Aarion McDonald is eligible to play this season and is said to be the team’s best player, setting Arizona up for major improvement across the board after a rough 6-24 campaign.