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What will grad transfer Trinity Baptiste bring to Arizona women’s basketball?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 29 Women’s Virginia Tech at Florida State Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When Trinity Baptiste entered the transfer portal last month, the Roanoke Times says that she had plans to get closer to home for her senior season. With home being in Tampa, Fla, it was a bit of a surprise when she announced on Tuesday that she was on her way to Tucson to join head coach Adia Barnes and the Arizona Wildcats.

The tweet is no longer available, but the newspaper reported that Baptiste wrote, “Thank you Hokie Nation for everything. I gave everything I had to this program my last two years here. Everything I do and the game that I play is for God. I will allow God to guide me in the next chapter of my life. I am looking to be closer to home for family reasons.”

The Wildcats are certainly happy that she changed her mind. Last week, Barnes addressed what the Wildcats needed.

“I think the focus would be someone to replace Dominique or a really strong rebounder,” Barnes said at the time. “But they’re very hard to find.”

Baptiste was a rarity, but the coach was able to sell Arizona’s need and get the ACC Sixth Player of the Year to commit.

What does Baptiste offer that Arizona needed? In short, a player similar to former starter Dominique McBryde in many ways.

Mitchell Northam, who covers the ACC for High Post Hoops, called Baptiste “tough” and “a solid rebounder on both ends” while noting that she was a bit undersized as a four. He also praised her ability to catch and shoot from 3-point distance.

Toughness and the ability to shoot the 3 were certainly attributes that McBryde brought to the table. Arizona’s outgoing big was good on 40 percent of her 3-point shots last season. That’s slightly better than the 37.3 percent that Baptiste hit.

Both players took about the same number of shots from beyond the arc per game. In her 25 appearances—23 as a starter—McBryde launched 1.8 3-point shots per contest. In the Hokies’ 30 games, Baptiste shot 1.7 per game as a reserve.

Where Baptiste outpaced McBryde was on the boards. In 27.9 minutes per game, McBryde averaged 3.5 RPG. Although it is not a stat that Barnes stresses, McBryde had 0.6 per contest on the offensive boards.

In her 23 MPG, the incoming grad transfer had 6.4 RPG. Whether it holds in the system Barnes runs remains to be seen, but she grabbed 1.8 on the offensive end of the floor.

Had she been at Arizona last season, Baptiste would have been second on the team in both overall and offensive rebounds while only being sixth on the team in minutes played. Cate Reese led the team with 7.5 RPG and 2.0 O-RPG in 29.2 MPG.

On the negative side of the equation, it’s difficult to know whether Baptiste has the same ability to keep the offense running that McBryde possessed. She certainly had lower assist numbers.

McBryde set up her teammates 1.4 times per game last year while Baptiste dropped just under one dime per contest. Barnes referred to McBryde as a “point from the post,” and Baptiste doesn’t appear to have the same skill in that area.

The incoming Wildcat also lacks some of the defensive prowess of the graduating senior. McBryde averaged 0.6 blocks and 1.7 steals per game this year, finishing the season with a total of 16 blocks and 43 steals in 25 appearances. Baptiste had just seven blocks and 16 steals in 30 games.

Whether Baptiste takes over McBryde’s starting spot in the lineup is still a question, but it would not be a surprise if she did. After starting 19 games her sophomore season, she became a reserve last year. That may have had more to do with her decision to make a move than the desire to play near home, especially considering that she ended up committing to a program across the country.