College basketball season is closing in. Pac-12 Media Day is less than three weeks away and the season will follow in early November. Former Arizona Wildcats are already busy overseas.
Aari McDonald heads to Hungary
Former Arizona star Aari McDonald is already in Hungary preparing for her second rookie season. The point guard saw her role expand with four starts at the end of her WNBA rookie season, but she should have even more opportunities to develop with Uni Gyor. It’s the next step in a professional life that has agreed with her.
“Life has been great as a professional,” McDonald said after the Olympic break. “You have so much freedom.”
She departed for Gyor, Hungary on Sept. 25. The most notable news from overseas so far is that she will be wearing her No. 2 jersey again after wearing No. 4 for the Atlanta Dream.
Ify Ibekwe and Nigeria take another gold in Afrobasket Women 2021
The era of Arizona women’s basketball led by former coach Niya Butts isn’t the most storied of the program’s history. Yet, two of the five players in the Arizona Ring of Honor played early in that eight-season era—guard Davellyn Whyte (2009-13) and forward Ify Ibekwe (2007-11). Ibekwe is still making memories in the game.
After playing in this summer’s Olympics, Ibekwe was back on the court for Nigeria at FIBA Afrobasket Women 2021 from Sept. 18-26. For the third straight time, Nigeria emerged victorious. The team defeated Mali 70-59 in the finals to go 5-0 in the tournament.
Ibekwe had a strong tournament averaging 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 25.8 minutes per game. Her best two outings were in the semifinals against Senegal and again in the finals.
Against Senegal, she went 4-for-6 from the field including 2-for-4 from 3-point distance. She scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds, had one steal, and blocked a shot in 31 minutes.
Ibekwe was even more dominant in the final against Mali. She had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. She hit five of 11 shots, had three assists, and stole the ball twice in 32 minutes of play.
The Nigerian national team is made up of multiple U.S.-born and former NCAA players, including several from the PAC-12. Ibekwe is teammates with former ASU Sun Devil Promise Amukamara and former UCLA Bruin Atonye Nyingifa.
Trinity Baptiste and BC Samara look forward to Russian Premier League debut
Trinity Baptiste has made her way to Samara, Russia. The rookie was drafted by the WNBA’s Indiana Fever but wasn’t able to make the squad. Soon after she was cut by the Fever, she announced her signing with BC Samara.
The club is preparing for its first season in the Russian Premier League which will tip off on Oct. 3 against UMMC Ekaterinburg. UMMC Ekaterinburg has won every title in the top Russian women’s league since 2009 and features Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner.
Dominique McBryde and AS Niki Lefkadas try to qualify for EuroCup Women
Dominique McBryde played her rookie season in Hungary. She was able to provide tips to former teammate McDonald, but she won’t be playing against her old point guard. McBryde is playing for AS Niki Lefkadas in Greece this year.
Lefkadas started qualification rounds for EuroCup women on Sept. 23. They dropped their first game to Hungarian club PEAC-Pecs by a score of 80-63.
While her team fell short, McBryde had a good outing. She went 7-for-13 from the field, hitting four of her eight 3-pointers. She ended her night with 20 points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block in just over 38 minutes of play. She and teammate Kobi Thornton scored 44 of their team’s 63 points.
Lefkadas will return home to host PEAC-Pecs in EuroCup qualifying on Sept. 29. League play will begin on Oct. 17 against Dafni.