The Pac-12 coaches have spoken. They think Arizona women’s basketball is pretty stacked, starting at the top with Aari McDonald.
McDonald was named both the Pac-12 Player of the Year and the Pac-12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year on Monday. It was the second straight year she has won the Defensive Player of the Year award, although she took it outright last season. This season she shared the award with Stanford’s Anna Wilson.
McDonald joins Adia Barnes as the only UA player to ever be named the Pac-10/12 Player of the Year.
Earlier in the day, McDonald was also named one of the finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which goes to the country’s best point guard. It is one of the Naismith Starting Five awards given to the best players at each position.
Last season, McDonald won the Ann Meyers Drysdale award that goes to the nation’s best shooting guard. She was also on the early watch lists for that award, making the late switch to the list of Nancy Lieberman finalists a bit of a surprise.
McDonald ended the regular season by leading the conference in both scoring and steals for the third straight season. Her 19.4 points per game tied with Washington State freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker, but McDonald did it in fewer minutes per game and had a higher shooting percentage. When the buzzer sounded in Tempe, she ended the game having scored in double figures in 85 straight contests—her entire Arizona career.
On the defensive end, McDonald picked her opponents’ pockets 2.7 times per game. That was a career high, outpacing the 2.6 steals per game she had during her sophomore season.
McDonald wasn’t bad on the boards, either. Her 5.0 rebounds per game placed her 23rd in the league despite being listed at 5-foot-6.
Fellow senior Sam Thomas and junior Cate Reese were both named to the 15-member All-Pac-12 team. It was Reese’s second time as an All-Pac-12 selection. Thomas also joined McDonald on the Pac-12 All-Defensive team for the second straight year, giving Arizona two of the five honorees.
Reese was 18th in the league in scoring at 11.6 points per game, but played a career-low 24.6 minutes per game this season. She was 17th in the Pac-12 with 5.4 rebounds per game.
After being the ACC’s Sixth Player of the Year last season at Virginia Tech, grad transfer Trinity Baptiste was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention in her first year in the league. Baptiste was 15th in the conference with 5.7 rebounds per game.
Freshman Lauren Ware was honorable mention on the All-Freshman team. Ware finished just behind McDonald at 24th in the league with 4.9 rebounds while playing just 18.1 minutes per game.