Arizona women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes acknowledged tonight after the Wildcats’ victory over Grambling that she played a part in the recruitment of Washington standout Kelsey Plum when she was an assistant with the Huskies.
Plum, a senior guard, has compiled a Pac-12-record 2,759 points in her career. She broke the record scoring a season-high 44 points for the 11th-ranked Huskies Sunday in a 92-66 win over visiting Boise State.
Congratulations to @UW_WBB's Kelsey Plum on becoming the Pac-12 all-time scoring leader!
New record: 2,759 and counting… pic.twitter.com/3zsWztM7PN
“We all recruited her but Kelsey is from San Diego (where Barnes is from) so it was kind of recruiting by committee … we never considered her ours or mine and we don’t do that here on this staff, but yes I was very involved in her recruiting,” Barnes said.
Barnes, Arizona’s career scoring leader with 2,237 points, served as an assistant coach at Washington for five years before she was hired in April by athletic director Greg Byrne to become the Wildcats’ head coach.
“I think Kelsey’s a phenomenal player,” Barnes said when asked about her thoughts about Plum breaking the conference scoring record. “She’ll be a pro player. She’ll be a longtime pro. I was really happy.”
Barnes posing with Plum and Washington forward Chantel Osahor during the Pac-12 media day in October.
Husky Love!! Miss these ladies! pic.twitter.com/LW9x1kKJxD
Barnes added that Plum is one of the hardest working players she’s observed in her career as a player and coach. She said she challenged Plum to be an academic All-American and Plum has achieved that goal.
“What I love is watching her change into a great leader, learning how to pull people along,” Barnes said. “She’s the person who changed the culture at Washington (into a Final Four program). She was in there working so much extra, then she brought one teammate and then two and then it became the norm.
“I’m looking for some Kelsey Plums right now, and it’s hard, you’ll probably never find one. She’s a player who comes along every 10 years. You’re not going to have one of her every four years, maybe not every 10 years. But those are the players who are so hungry and want to be so good that want to change the culture of your team.”
Barnes, who has coached Arizona to a 7-1 start, added that she continues to talk with Plum and some of the Washington players weekly. She also keeps in contact with Washington coach Mike Neighbors daily.
“I recruited a lot of those players and I have a really good relationship with them,” Barnes said. “I’m in Seattle and they’ll come by and see me when I recruit at a game. So it’s just a relationship that will never go away.”
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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.