Arizona athletes

Barnes’ hire boosts UA two-fold: Increases Cats as head coaches and she’s coming home

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FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES
AS CURRENT HEAD COACHES

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Information from Arizona media relations department contributed to this report

The University of Arizona has named Adia Barnes its new head women’s basketball coach, Director of Athletics Greg Byrne announced on Monday.

The leading scorer in Arizona women’s basketball history and a WNBA Champion, Barnes comes to Tucson after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Washington for the past five seasons.

Barnes, 39, is the 31st former Arizona player to become an active head coach. She is Byrne’s 10th hire at Arizona, fitting his model of young coaches who have a high motor to succeed. His hires’ average age: 39.

Byrne is also not against hiring alums such as Barnes, although he does not base the affiliation as a deciding factor. Women’s golf coach Laura Ianello and men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach Rick DeMont were former Arizona athletes in their respective sports. John Cohen played at Mississippi State before Byrne brought him back as the head baseball coach there in 2009 before Byrne left to become athletic director at Arizona.

“This is an exciting day for the University of Arizona,” Byrne stated. “Not only are we hiring an excellent basketball coach, who also excelled as a player, but we’re able to welcome one of Arizona’s all-time greats back to campus. We believe Adia’s combination of experience and energy, along with her understanding of this athletics department, made her the perfect fit to lead our women’s basketball program into its next phase. We’re looking forward to having Adia as a member of this department and we can’t wait for her to get started.”

Barnes joined the staff at Washington in 2011 and helped boost the Huskies profile in the Pac-12 and nationally, culminating in a trip to the Final Four this year. After three seasons on staff, Barnes was promoted to recruiting coordinator, where she handled all aspects of recruiting including budget, compliance and planning, in addition to her role in player development. Prior to Barnes arrival for the 2011-12 season, Washington hadn’t posted a 20-win season in six years. Since then, the Huskies have posted five straight, including a 26-win season this year.

“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to be the next head coach at my alma mater,” said Barnes. “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.”

A three-time all-conference selection, Barnes was voted USBWA first-team All-American and Pac-10 player of the year in 1997-98. Her 2,237 career points currently rank ninth on the Pac-12’s all-time scoring list. Following her collegiate career, Barnes played professionally for 12 seasons in the WNBA and overseas. She won a WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm in 2004, was named to the Storm’s All-Decade Team, and also played for Cleveland, Minnesota and Sacramento. Her overseas career included stops in the Ukraine, Israel, Turkey, Russia and Italy.

In addition to her playing and coaching career, Barnes has been extremely active in the community through the Adia Barnes Foundation, which mentors under-served youth and conducts charitable events and community service projects such as school supply drives. Barnes spent 10 years as the Seattle Storm’s TV analyst for NBA TV and FOX Sports Northwest and also spent time as the color commentator for Storm radio broadcasts.

A native of San Diego, Calif., Barnes is married to Salvo Coppa, who coached for 14 seasons, including 10 professionally in Italy and with three separate national teams. She is also the mother of one son, Matteo.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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