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2 Arizona Wildcats among ESPN’s top newcomers in women’s college basketball

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Trinity Baptiste
Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

The Arizona women’s basketball team is regarded as one of the best in the country because of its strong core of returning players, but newcomers will be key in its quest for a national championship too.

ESPN ranked Indiana transfer Bendu Yeaney as the 43rd-best newcomer in the country and Virginia Tech grad transfer Trinity Baptiste as the 45th-best newcomer.

ESPN’s Graham Hays analyzed what those additions mean for the Wildcats, who are ranked No. 9 in ESPN’s preseason rankings.

The moves didn’t grab headlines, but Arizona emerged an offseason winner adding Yeaney and senior forward Trinity Baptiste as complementary pieces around Aari McDonald, Cate Reese and Sam Thomas. Yeaney’s waiver gives Arizona a big-time perimeter defender.

While the Wildcats were one of the Pac-12’s stingiest defenses a season ago, they ran a rebounding deficit. Baptiste averaged 6.4 rebounds in just 23 minutes per game for Virginia Tech and did so while still showing 3-point range as a versatile forward.

Not included on this list because she sat out at Arizona last season is Oklahoma transfer Shaina Pellington, an athletic two-guard who was once the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. She’s expected to start in the backcourt alongside McDonald.

Five-star freshman forward Lauren Ware isn’t on this list either, possibly because she didn’t play high school basketball last season as she recovered from a torn ACL.

In case you missed it, the men’s team had four players make ESPN’s list of the top newcomers in college basketball.