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Tracking Arizona women’s basketball’s 2021-22 scholarship situation and recruiting needs

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2020 NBA All-Star - BWB Camp Photo by Nicole Sweet/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2021 recruiting cycle is still in its infancy, but the Arizona Wildcats’ class is almost complete.

As of now, Adia Barnes and company only have one more scholarships left after landing five-star post Aaronette Vonleh and Estonian guard Anna Gret Asi last week. (They already had a commitment four-star shooting guard Madison Conner.)

Division I women’s basketball programs are allotted 15 scholarships compared to 13 on the men’s side, but Arizona has never fielded a roster that large under Barnes because, as she’s said, it’s too hard to keep everyone happy.

So it is possible Arizona’s 2021 class is finished, though probably not since a transfer or two is possible. The Wildcats have seen several players leave the program in the Barnes era, most recently Bryce Nixon (Santa Clara) and Birna Benonysdottir (Binghamton), who transferred to mid-majors this offseason.

With that said, here is a look at how the 2021-22 roster is shaping up so far. Note that the players are listed in order of their seniority, not their place on the depth chart. It is way too early to determine that. (We haven’t even gotten to the 2020-21 season yet!)

  • PG: Helena Pueyo (Jr.)/Derin Erdogan (So.)/Anna Gret Asi (Fr.)
  • SG: Shaina Pellington (Sr.)/Tara Manumaleuga (Jr.)/Madison Conner (Fr.)
  • SF: Bendu Yeaney (Sr. or Jr.)/Mara Mote (Jr.)
  • PF: Cate Reese (Sr.)/Lauren Ware (So.)/Marta Garcia (So.)
  • C: Semaj Smith (Sr.)/Sevval Gül (Jr.)/Aaronette Vonleh (Fr.)

Finding Aari McDonald’s replacement will be the most pressing task, so it seems likely that Arizona will try to round out the 2021 class with a point guard. Pueyo can play that position but is more of combo guard. Asi and Erdogan obviously are still unproven, having yet to suit up in a college game.

Arizona is a finalist for five-star point guards Kayla McPherson (Danielsville, Ga.) and Kyndall Hunter (Houston, Texas). The Wildcats have also offered Khylee Pepe, a 6-foot guard from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, Calif.

Other highly-touted point guards like Jada Walker, Aziaha James, and Jasmine Shavers recently committed elsewhere. Walker and James are from Virginia, and Shavers is from Texas, so landing them was always going to be difficult since recruits have not been able to take in-person visits since March due to the coronavirus crisis.

That could also be a disadvantage when it comes to landing McPherson and, to a lesser extent, Hunter.