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Arizona a finalist for 4-star 2022 Canadian guard Lemyah Hylton

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NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Championship Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Arizona’s 2022 recruiting class already has two of the top American players verbally committed, but the Wildcats are still a program that reaches outside the U.S. borders every year for at least one player. Could Lemyah Hylton of Mississagua, Ontario, Canada be the international member of the 2022 class? Adia Barnes and company appear to have a one-in-five shot at it.

The combo guard from Southwest Academy in London, Ontario announced a top 10 back in February. On Tuesday, she narrowed that list down to five: Arizona, Alabama, Maryland, Michigan, and North Carolina.

The Wildcats reportedly offered the 5-foot-10 Hylton in 2019. That year, her team appeared at the University of Michigan Team Shootout in June. The reviews were raving. They also noted that Michigan coaches were at all of her games. With her adopted hometown of London being located about halfway between Toronto and Detroit, that could come into play.

“She is a sure-fire High Major prospect!” wrote the LBI staff. “A strong hybrid guard with athleticism! The way she rises up over the rim while she attacks the basket is a delight. She is such a strong slasher and can hit the deep ball, she had a Michigan coach on hand for each game, and it leads me to believe she is high on their radar, not to mention she’s only a Sophomore which made her performance on Sunday even scarier! She rebounds with a purpose and has a body type that will translate on each level she plays at.”

Hylton relocated from her hometown of Mississagua to train at Southwest Academy, a basketball prep school that has produced several Division I players. She also plays for the Kia Nurse EYBL program, the only Nike EYBL program in Canada. As a junior, she was considered the top recruit from her country. Crown Scout Girls, which rates Canadian basketball recruits, rates her as a four on a scale of one to five.

As a sophomore in the 2019-20 regular season, Hylton averaged 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. While the counting numbers were good, her percentages were not as strong. Over the regular season, she shot 39.4 percent from the field while hitting just 18.5 percent of her shots from 3-point distance. It was enough for her to be named a second-team All-Star by the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA).

What are the chances that Arizona lands her? Her social media accounts definitely show that she has a strong interest in Arizona. Retweets of Barnes and the official Arizona women’s basketball accounts are plentiful. The Wildcats also feature another player from the area outside Toronto in senior point guard Shaina Pellington.

The question is how far Hylton wants to venture, especially in the late pandemic era when she hasn’t been able to visit many schools. From all appearances, she is already well-acquainted with the University of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor.

Southwest Academy has played in several tournaments on the campus at Michigan. The city of Ann Arbor lies about three hours from London, where Hylton’s high school is located, and a little over four hours from her hometown of Mississauga. Will the lure of a recent run to the national title game and the opportunity to play for one of the hottest coaches in the sport be enough to overcome that sense of familiarity and lead her to commit to Arizona?

Hylton seems to be intent on taking her visits which gives the Wildcats a better chance than they might have had a year ago.

“I think the visits are the most important part,” she told the London Free Press. “Me getting a feel for the actual program and just the environment that I would be in and having to adapt to. Also, just relationships with the coaching staff and just making sure that I’ll be comfortable wherever I’m headed.”

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Assuming that Arizona does not bring back any of the rising seniors who are eligible for another year due to the COVID-19 relief granted by the NCAA, Barnes has five open scholarships for the 2022-23 season. That would mean that Cate Reese, Semaj Smith, Taylor Chavez, Bendu Yeaney, and Ariyah Copeland all move on after next year.

One of those scholarships may go to USC transfer Endyia Rogers, who is set to make her choice between the Wildcats and the Oregon Ducks sometime over the next month. In that case, the Wildcats would have up to four available scholarships depending on how Barnes navigates the question of an extra year for the seniors.