The best news Arizona women’s basketball fans got after the Wildcats returned from the Final Four in April was that senior wing Sam Thomas was taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA. On Friday, head coach Adia Barnes announced that senior forward Cate Reese will be doing the same.
Reese will play her first senior season this year. In 2022-23, she will return for a second go-round as a fifth-year player. Knowing that now allows both Reese and her coaches to plan for the future. Unlike this season, players who take advantage of the extra season in the future will count against the 15-player scholarship limit.
With the addition of commits Maya Nnaji and Kailyn Gilbert next season, Reese staying for a fifth season will give Arizona 11 scholarship players. That leaves four open spots for freshmen or transfers. Barnes said that she hopes to get commitments from at least three more players before signing day in November.
For Reese, it was a foregone conclusion that she would play another year of college basketball.
“It was a no-brainer,” Reese said. “I knew I was going to come back and play a fifth year for McKale and red and blue. I could play basketball in college as long as I wanted, if I could, but (you) only get that short window of time.”
Reese wants to keep that window open for as long as she can. When she arrived in Tucson as Arizona’s first female McDonald’s All-American in the fall of 2018 she became an immediate starter. She has started every one of Arizona’s 95 games since then.
Returning for a fifth season means that she gets to continue playing the game she loves, but it also means that she will be able to pursue something that could have an even bigger impact on her life.
The business management major is excited to pursue her master’s degree while still on an athletic scholarship. She will graduate in May, then spend the extra year getting an advanced degree financed through her athletic skills.
Reese has averaged 12.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game over her three-year career.