Less than a year after leading the Arizona Wildcats to their first-ever national title game, Aari McDonald will return to McKale Center to have her jersey placed next to those of a handful of other women who wrote their names on the program. McDonald will be formally inducted into the Arizona Ring of Honor after the Friday, Jan. 7 game against Washington State.
McDonald will join Ify Ibekwe, Davellyn Whyte, Shawntinice Polk, Dee Dee Wheeler, and Adia Barnes as the Arizona alumnae who have met the stringent requirements to have their jerseys hanging in the rafters of McKale Center. Ibekwe was the last Wildcat so honored, joining the group during McDonald’s sophomore season in Nov. 2018.
In order to be eligible for Arizona’s highest honor, a player must meet one of the following criteria:
- First Team All-American recognition by at least one major national or media organization.
- Major national “player of distinction” award (eg, Heisman, Wooden, etc) or Most Valuable/Outstanding Player distinction.
- Conference Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, or Offensive/Defensive Player of the Year.
- Arizona career leader in three or more positive career records at the end of her college career. She must continue to hold this record for at least five years after the completion of her career. The record cannot be a single-game record or minutes played.
- Ten or more years played in a major North American sports league (NFL, NBA, MLB, WNBA, NHL) and/or selection as an All-Star/All-Pro by the official league.
- Olympic medalist.
McDonald qualifies by virtue of being the winner of the 2019-20 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as the best shooting guard in the nation, the 2021 Pac-12 Player of the Year, and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in both 2020 and 2021.
She ended her career as Arizona’s leader in points per game, as well as holding the single-season (890 points) and single-game (44 points) scoring records. Her 25.3 ppg in Pac-12 play during the 2019 season was the highest ever by a Wildcat in conference play.
Despite playing just three seasons at Arizona and having two of those seasons shortened by the pandemic, McDonald was also third on the career scoring list. Her 2,041 points place her behind Barnes (2,237) and Whyte (2,059).