Aari McDonald had 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes when the Wildcats opened their season against North Dakota on Friday. It wasn’t her best game in an Arizona jersey by any measurement.
“Aari didn’t play well tonight,” head coach Adia Barnes said after that game. “This was not an Aari-like game. I thought she missed some shots (she) usually hits. She struggled from the 3 a little bit, and that’s something she’s really been...that’s been a bright spot in practices.”
Despite a game that didn’t meet the standards of “an Aari-like game,” it didn’t detract from what McDonald accomplished last year or is expected to accomplish this year. As the team prepares to host Santa Clara on Friday, their star guard’s name appeared on two more preseason watch lists.
On Wednesday, McDonald joined 10 of her fellow Pac-12 players on the Naismith Trophy Women’s Watch List. The award, given by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, honors the best player in women’s college basketball. The initial watch list includes 50 players.
That honor was followed by a place on the Wade Trophy watch list. The Wade Trophy is the oldest of the women’s national player of the year awards. To win, a player must be at least a sophomore and win a place on the WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team. McDonald was again one of numerous Pac-12 candidates.
The two lists bring the total of preseason acknowledgements to five for McDonald. She had already been named a member of the preseason All-Pac-12 team, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List, and the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30.
The various watch lists will be whittled down as the season progresses. Players can play their way on or off the lists over the course of the year.