South Georgia Technical College post Fanta Gassama had it planned. She was headed to Cincinnati after a strong finish at the junior college level. A coaching change in Ohio reopened her recruitment. Now, she will add to the growing number of frontcourt players at Arizona next season.
While the 6-foot-1 sophomore is listed as a center by her juco team, the announcement of her commitment to Arizona lists her as a forward. Regardless, she adds to the five post players either already on the roster or committed for next season: fifth-year forward Esmery Martinez, junior forward Sali Kourouma, junior forward Isis Beh, sophomore forward Maya Nnaji, and freshman center Breya Cunningham. Montaya Dew is also tall enough to play a post position, although she is generally considered to be a wing and Arizona lacks depth at that position.
Gassama is a native of Mataro, Spain, giving Arizona yet another international player to add to Helena Pueyo (Spain), Martinez (Dominican Republic), and Kourouma (Mali). Gassama, Beh, and Kourouma all spent time in the junior college ranks, but Gassama is the first to come to Arizona directly from a junior college this offseason.
At her last stop, Gassama was named to the NJCAA Division I Women’s basketball All-Tournament team last year. The Lady Jets went 33-2 overall and 15-0 in conference play. They won the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association title and were ranked No. 1 in NJCAA D1 at the end of the season.
The Lady Jets entered the NJCAA D1 Tournament as the No. 1 seed but were upset by the No. 8 seed and eventual champions Northwest Florida State in the quarterfinals. Northwest Florida State was led by Sakima Walker, another junior college post that Arizona had been rumored to be interested in.
Gassama played in 32 games with 23 starts as a freshman. She averaged 20 minutes per game. She shot 54 percent from the field, placing first in the conference. She averaged a double-double with 10.0 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. The rebounds also placed her first in the league. She added 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. She improved her stats to 13.3 ppg and 13.1 rpg as a sophomore.
The addition of Gassama gives the Wildcats 11 players on next season's roster. In addition to the forwards, they have guards Pueyo, Kailyn Gilbert, Courtney Blakely, and Jada Williams.