Adia Barnes has been watching carefully to see when the NCAA Division I Council will vote on a one-time waiver that would allow women’s basketball players to transfer without having to sit out a season.
Because if the measure passes on May 20, and is implemented immediately, it could make the Arizona Wildcats an even more dangerous team in 2020-21. It’d mean Indiana transfer Bendu Yeaney would be eligible to play and boost an already-loaded backcourt.
But if the DI Council votes against the waiver, postpones the election date to January as recent reports have suggested, and/or waits until 2021-22 to institute the waiver, Yeaney’s debut would have to wait a year.
Either way, Barnes calls it a win-win situation.
“If she can play, she’s a tremendous athlete, a great defender, very strong,” the UA coach said. “I mean, her next to Aari (McDonald), Shaina (Pellington), Sam (Thomas), we would be extremely athletic and explosive. But then if she has to sit out, she has a year in our system, Aari’s leaving, she kind of fills in a spot and then Shaina still has another year after that.”
There’s another variable that will determine Yeaney’s availability: her health. The Portland native is still getting up to speed after suffering an Achilles injury in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Yeaney managed to appear in six games in 2019-20 before leaving Indiana, but her production noticeably dipped. The 5-foot-10 guard averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 12.7 minutes, a far cry from the 9.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and team-high 1.5 steals she averaged as a starter as a sophomore.
So even if the one-time transfer waiver goes into effect in 2020-21, Yeaney could redshirt anyway.
“I think that for her the main thing is she has to get healthy because she’s recovering from an Achilles injury,” Barnes said. “If she could play, that’d be great. But if she’s not 100 percent, I don’t want her to waste a year playing.”
Yeaney may have already done that. Since she hardly played in 2019-20, she has applied for a medical redshirt in hopes of recouping a year of eligibility. If it is granted, she’d be able to play two seasons at Arizona instead of one.
A stat to watch
Yeaney was known for her defense at Indiana. Her bio says she was “usually tasked with guarding the opponent’s leading scorer.”
But she was once a lethal 3-point shooter as well. Yeaney shot 28 for 71 from 3 (39%) as a freshman. Her percentage plummeted to 20.4% as a sophomore (10 for 49), so it will be interesting to see which version Arizona gets.
3-point shooting (along with defensive rebounding) has been one of its weaknesses the past few years. The Wildcats shot 34.8% from distance in 2019-20, the fifth-best mark in the Pac-12.