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Arizona’s Cate Reese and Esmery Martinez named to Katrina McClain Award watchlist

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Arizona Photo by Simon Asher/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

If there’s one thing the Arizona Wildcats have this year, it’s quality at the four position. Fifth-year senior Cate Reese and senior Esmery Martinez were both named to the 2023 Katrina McClain Award preseason watchlist on Thursday. The annual award is presented by the WBCA and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the best power forward in women’s college basketball.

The honor marks the third time in her career that Reese has made the preseason list. In 2020, she was one of 10 finalists. Martinez is on the preseason list for the second straight year.

Reese made the AP All-America honorable mention list last season, a year that also marked her third straight honor as an All-Pac-12 performer. She was also on the Naismith Trophy midseason watchlist that goes to the best player in women’s college basketball. She led Arizona in both scoring (14.3 points per game) and rebounding (6.0 rebounds per game) as a senior.

Reese has played both the four and the five during her previous four years at Arizona. Last year, she played primarily the four. That is expected to continue again this season unless the Wildcats go with a small lineup.

Martinez played the last three years for the West Virginia Mountaineers before transferring to Arizona in the offseason. She was All-Big-12 First Team as a sophomore and All-Big-12 Second Team as a junior. As a sophomore for the Mountaineers, she averaged a double-double with 13.6 PPG and 11.6 RPG.

Head coach Adia Barnes described Martinez as a “stretch four” who has a knack for rebounding.

The team of five returners and seven newcomers will get their first chance to play an opponent in front of the McKale Center crowd on Thursday, Oct. 27 when they open the exhibition season against West Texas A&M.