The Arizona Wildcats never got to complete their historic 2019-20 season. After setting one record after another and securing what was sure to be a chance to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the team saw its drive for a special ending to the year stopped in its tracks when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sports world in mid-March.
While we’ll never know what this team could have accomplished in the NCAA Tournament, a full regular season and conference tournament worth of competition is more than enough to assess each individual player’s performance.
- Year: Senior
- Height: 6-foot-1
- Position: Power forward
- 2019-20 statistics: 28.0 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 51.1 FG%, 40.0 3FG%, 63.6 FT%, 25 GP, 23 GS
Coming out of high school, Dominique McBryde was a five-star prospect who landed at Purdue, where she had committed very young. ESPN HoopGurlz called her “among the most versatile perimeter prospects in the class of 2015.” Her 40 percent accuracy from distance this season backed that up.
After a couple of years as a Boilermaker, the forward landed at Arizona alongside Aari McDonald and Tee Tee Starks in the transfer class that would turn around Arizona women’s basketball.
This season, she became the first player in Arizona history to shoot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3. It wasn’t always easy, though. McBryde went down early in the game against Monmouth on Dec. 2. She would not appear for the Wildcats again until they faced Oregon State on Jan. 10.
Best stretch of play
Like Sam Thomas, it’s not always wise to judge McBryde by just her offensive output. As Adia Barnes often says, she’s very good at keeping the offense going whether she’s scoring or not. But people love scoring, and she showed how good she can be at that over the final month of the season.
Beginning with the USC game in McKale Center on Feb. 2, McBryde was in double digits six times in 11 games and just shy of that mark in two more. Even when she wasn’t scoring—like when she had just two points against Washington—she was piling up the steals on the defensive end.
Over those final 11 games, McBryde shot 58 percent from the floor, hitting 45 of her 78 shots. Twenty-four of those shots came from beyond the arc, and she made good on 42 percent of them.
The other things she does on the court were just as special. She had 15 assists over those 11 games, including five against California on Senior Day and four more in the revenge match against the Golden Bears in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. She had 48 rebounds, averaging 4.4 per game. On defense, she contributed 21 steals and 7 blocks as her team went 8-3.
She put up a double-double when the Wildcats got the program’s first win over a Top 5 team. Her 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal against Stanford were crucial to the Arizona victory.
Her biggest game came against Oregon State just as it had in the 2018-19 season. On Feb. 9, McBryde came up huge in the historic win in Gill Coliseum. Her 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 2 steals helped lift the Wildcats to their first road victory against a Top 10 team in program history.
Worst stretch of play
It’s hard to be too tough on a player who is just coming back from injury, but McBryde did have a bit of difficulty when she returned to the floor in January. It began with the team’s first game against Oregon State on Jan. 10, McBryde’s first game back after sustaining an injury on Dec. 2.
McBryde’s highest-scoring contest over the six contests from Jan. 10 through Jan. 31 was six points, and she only reached that point once. She averaged just 3.5 PPG and 1.3 RPG, and she was racking up fouls on the defensive end. She was also well off her season average with only 0.8 steals per game.
After the team defeated Prairie View A&M on Nov. 20, Barnes spoke about McBryde: “She’s very hard to have off the floor. She’s someone who makes our offense flow. She’s so unselfish. She will have a good shot, but her teammate will have a great shot. She’s always passing it. She never forces a shot. She’s always telling people where to go. So those things are extremely valuable. Extremely. And I’m always thinking, ‘Oh gosh, next year without Dominique, we’re going to be a lot different.’ So she’s very, very valuable.”
There were hopes that the seniors might get to return for another year after their season was unceremoniously ended. It didn’t go their way, though, as the NCAA opted not to grant an extra year to athletes in winter sports. So, McBryde is on to the next phase of her life.
That next phase started taking shape on April 1 when she signed with LivOn Global Sports Management. On April 17, McBryde went unselected in the WNBA draft, but she was signed to a training camp contract with the Los Angeles Sparks just after the draft ended.
While it’s extremely difficult even for drafted players to make a WNBA roster, getting to camp can increase the likelihood that McBryde gets a shot at playing overseas.