After serving as an assistant on the Washington Huskies staff for the last five years, Greg Byrne moved quickly to bring Adia Barnes back home to Arizona, naming her the new women's basketball head coach just one day after UW lost in the Final Four.
Please join me in welcoming @ArizonaWBBall's new head coach, Wildcat great and WNBA Champion @AdiaBarnes. #BearDown pic.twitter.com/KmIOj9QHYQ— Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) April 4, 2016
Barnes is the all-time scoring leader at Arizona, racking up 2,237 points during her playing career in Tucson. That mark sits ninth on the Pac-12's all-time scoring list. She was also named the Pac-10 Player of the Year after the 1997-98 season.
"I'm extremely excited for the opportunity to be the next head coach at my alma mater," Barnes said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working with the young women in Arizona's basketball program as well as the wonderful people in McKale. Arizona has such great resources and some of the best facilities in women's basketball. I also believe the Tucson community does a great job of supporting the women's basketball program, which we'll need as we navigate the toughest conference in the country, the Pac-12. I want to thank Greg Byrne and the people in Arizona Athletics for this opportunity as well as coach Mike Neighbors for mentoring and preparing me for this step. I believe we can compete for championships in the Pac-12 and nationally and I can't wait to return to Tucson and get started."
In addition to her college accolades, Barnes won the 2004 WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm. She was named to the Storm's All-Decade team as well.
She will be the fourth Arizona alum serving as a head coach now, according to Zack Rosenblatt:
Barnes is the 4th head coach now on campus to be a UA alum. Others are Vicky Maes (W Tennis), Laura Iannello (W Golf) and Rick DeMont (Swim)— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) April 4, 2016
And coming back to Arizona to be the head coach has been something that she's been thinking about for a long time apparently:
@Greg_Byrne 12 years ago, I had a chance to ask Adia about the prospect of coaching at her alma mater. Her response: pic.twitter.com/si6Lh7LUHl— Shane Dale (@ShaneDaleABC15) April 4, 2016
It'll be interesting to see how quickly Barnes can get the program turned around. Since going 10-8 in the Pac-10 in 2011, they have gone a combined 14-76 in conference games, which ultimately led to Niya Butts' demise.
This is probably the easiest hire Greg Byrne has made in his tenure as Arizona athletic director. Let's hope it works out for everyone.