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Arizona adds Vanderbilt transfer Koi Love, a possible Trinity Baptiste replacement

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 23 Women’s Vanderbilt at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A day after Trinity Baptiste announced she will not be returning next season, the Arizona Wildcats landed a seemingly perfect replacement when Vanderbilt transfer Koi Love committed to the UA.

Like Baptiste, Love is a forward, listed at 6-feet tall, and from Florida.

The sophomore was averaging 20.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game when the Commodores opted out of the 2020-21 season after eight games. Love started all eight, had four double-doubles and once scored 32 points against Kentucky.

The year prior, Love made the SEC All-Freshman Team after averaging a team-high 13.7 points per game along with 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.6 blocks per game. For her career, she has shot 47% from the field, 4 for 12 from 3 and hovers around 70 percent from the free-throw line.

Love has three years of eligibility left and should be able to play immediately since Vandy only played eight games, though that has not been confirmed. If she can, she will be the frontrunner to start alongside Cate Reese in the frontcourt like Baptiste did as the Wildcats try to make another run back to the Final Four.

Love was a top-70 recruit coming out of Miami Country Day School in 2019. Her ESPN scouting report said she was a “versatile forward pounds the glass and finishes plays through contact; superb offensive threat inside 15’, mismatch creator, finishes plays with body control; draws contact, earns points at the free throw line; defends, competes on both ends of the floor; a stock-riser in the class of 2019.”

Vandy coach Stephanie White, who was fired this week, once said Love’s ceiling is “so high.” She made measurable improvement from her freshman year to sophomore year, including cutting down her turnovers from 4.5 to 4.1 per game.

“It’s no question that she’s gonna be the primary one on everybody’s scouting report,” White said in October. “So now, how does she continue to build on her game and continue to make everybody else better? Be a better leader, be a better facilitator. She can’t turn it over like she turned it over last year. But when she plays with intensity and pace, she makes better decisions and takes better care of the ball. Her growth so far — I’ve been really, really impressed with what she did over the summer, especially considering the options that we had for working out over the summer.”