Arizona women’s basketball may be losing two former McDonald’s All-Americans off the current roster, but two more are coming in. Center Breya Cunningham and point guard Jada Williams both made an impact on the West team that defeated the East team 110-102 while showing off the kind of skills that every program would love to have.
The pair of all-stars played for the high school coach of a player who likely would have made the team this year if she had not opted to enroll at Arizona in January. Karen Weitz of Centennial High School in Las Vegas coached both Arizona freshman Montaya Dew, who was ranked No. 8 in the 2023 ESPN HoopGurlz rankings, and former Arizona standout Sam Thomas. On Tuesday afternoon, she was coaching two of Dew’s future teammates.
Cunningham started the game while Williams made a big impact off the bench.
Arizona head coach Adia Barnes has always talked about how important communication is on the court, especially by her post players. Cunningham showed that her skills aren’t limited to the physical gifts a 6-foot-4 post can rely on. Her mental skills are an important part of the package.
On one play, Cunningham was caught having to guard on the perimeter. She kept her player from shooting a 3 and despite the mismatch, forced the pass. She then headed back inside to cover her usual defensive assignment while clapping her hands and vocally telling her guards who they needed to match up with outside.
Williams showed both her ability to shoot the ball and to set up her teammates. She had nine points by halftime and finished well into double digits. That wasn’t the most impressive part of her game, though.
When she rebounded or stole the ball, she always looked down the court to see who was running. After one rebound she found UCLA-bound post Amanda Muse and hit her with the three-quarter court pass. Muse was fouled on the play to get the scoring opportunity for the West.
Williams’ ability to find her bigs was one reason Muse accounted for 12 first-half points. She also completed a nice bounce pass in the congested paint to set Muse up for two more in the second half.
Evaluators often write about Williams’ ability to encourage and celebrate her teammates as a vital skill. As a point guard, she takes obvious pleasure in seeing others succeed. That was the case even in an all-star game.
Last season, the Pac-12 signed 11 of the players from the 24-player McDonald’s All-American rosters. This year, the conference signed six. Arizona is the only team that signed more than one.
In addition to Williams and Cunningham, the other McDonald’s All-Americans who are headed to the league are the East’s Courtney Ogden (Stanford) and the West’s Sofia Bell (Oregon), Judea “JuJu” Watkins (USC), and Muse. Watkins is the top-rated recruit in the class according to ESPN HoopGurlz.