The recruitment of high-profile guard Bendu Yeaney by Adia Barnes and her staff began more than three years ago, before Yeaney’s senior season at Portland’s St. Mary’s Academy.
Yeaney announced she is finally joining Barnes’ effort to continue making Arizona’s program into a national brand. Yeaney, who left Indiana on Jan. 31 with plans to transfer, tweeted her decision to join the Arizona program this morning.
Yeaney took an official visit of Arizona campus when she was rated a three-start recruit by ESPN and No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2017 by Prospects Nation. She averaged 28.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 4.6 steals a game as a senior at the St. Mary’s Academy in 2016-17.
— Bendu yeaney (@Benduyeaney1) March 15, 2020
“First off, I want to thank the coaches that have recruited me during this process,” Yeaney wrote on social media. “I would like to thank my family and everyond around me that supported me through thick and thin. I’m beyond blessed for the opportunities and experiences that I’ve gain(ed) in the last 3 years but I’ve decided that it’s time for my next journey in life to start.
“So after a lot of consideration and conversation with my family, I have decided that I will attend the University of Arizona! Excited to be part of something special!”
Yeaney, who was midway through her junior year at Indiana when she announced she was transferring, suffered a torn Achilles during the Hoosiers’ second-round NCAA tournament game last March against Oregon. She announced in a released statement that she left Indiana for “personal reasons.”
“I have made the difficult decision to leave Indiana and pursue opportunities to continue my collegiate career closer to home,” Yeaney said. “The health of one of my immediate family members has heightened my desire to be closer to the West Coast. I am thankful for my three seasons in Bloomington. I would like to thank Teri Moren and staff for the opportunity to wear the Cream and Crimson for nearly three seasons. I wish the program the best and continued success in the future.”
Yeaney averaged 8.5 points per game in her Indiana career and started 69 of her first 70 games with the Hoosiers prior to coming off the bench in all six appearances this season. With limited appearances coming off an injury, and having to leave Indiana to be closer to family, she could appeal to the NCAA for immediate eligibility without having to wait a full year.
Barnes’ program has thrived with transfers from other four-year programs including Aari McDonald (Washington), Dominique McBryde (Purdue), Tee Tee Starks (Iowa State) and Amari Carter (Penn State).
Arizona junior guard Shaina Pellington is a transfer from Oklahoma who is sitting out this season per NCAA transfer rules.
— Arizona Women’s Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) November 14, 2019
Other players slated to join the program for 2020-21 are Turkish guard Derin Erdogan, Spanish post player Marta Garcia and Bismarck (N.D.) Century High School dual-sport standout Lauren Ware, a 6-foot-5 center who is a five-star basketball recruit, No. 22 overall in the country, according to ESPN, and is the No. 50 overall volleyball prospect in the country, according to Prep Volleyball’s Senior Aces..
The addition of Ware and Garcia addresses Arizona’s need for quality depth on the frontcourt along with juniors-to-be Cate Reese and Semaj Smith.
The injury, the uncertainty and the recovery.@CHSPatriotsGBB/@CHSPatriotsVB standout and @ArizonaWBB/@ArizonaVBall commit @laurenmarieware sits down with @NorstedtMidcoSN for an in-depth conversation on how she’s handled the toughest year of her life.🏀🏐#MidcoSN | #NDpreps pic.twitter.com/KXRNw2rjN3
— Midco Sports Network (@MidcoSN) March 12, 2020
Ware worked her way through an ACL injury this year and should be ready for volleyball with coach David Rubio by the fall.
Erdogan is a 5-foot-8 point guard who plays for the Turkish national team. A left-hander, she averaged 11.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in the 2018 FIBA U16 World Championship, including a 20-point game against the Czech Republic.
Marta played for Segle XXI Barcelona in Spain, the same team Arizona freshman guard Helena Pueyo was part of last season before joining Barnes’ program this year.
Here is Arizona’s projected 2020-21 roster provided everybody with eligibility returns (it will be speculated that with incoming guard transfers Yeaney and Pellington measures are being taken if McDonald decides to enter the WNBA draft):
Birna Benonysdottir, 6-3, F, Soph.
Derin Erdogan, 5-7, G, Fr.
Marta Garcia, 6-3, F, Fr.
Sevval Gul, 6-3, F, Soph.
Tara Manumaleuga, 5-10, G, Soph.
Aari McDonald, 5-6, G, Sr.
Mara Mote, 5-11, G., Soph.
Bryce Nixon, 5-10, G, Jr.
Shaina Pellington, 5-8, G, Jr.
Helena Pueyo, 6-0, G, Soph.
Cate Reese, 6-2, F, Jr.
Semaj Smith, 6-6, C, Jr.
Sam Thomas, 6-0, F, Sr.
Lauren Ware, 6-5, C, Fr.
Bendu Yeaney, 5-10, G, Jr.
The roster right now is full at 15. Barnes has mentioned that she may add a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility to fill a need if a spot is available.
One area of concern from the recent season in which the Wildcats were 24-7 and destined to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournaments before the COVID-19 pandemic concerns canceled the rest of the season, was rebounding and establishing a consistent inside presence.
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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.