Texas A&M coach Gary Blair praised Aari McDonald for being a true All-American point guard and Adia Barnes’ rebuild of Arizona’s program, and he was especially complimentary of junior post player Cate Reese.
Reese, who hails from Cypress, Texas, was recruited heavily by Texas A&M and many others as a McDonald’s All-American in 2018 before she chose Arizona and welcomed Barnes’ promise of making the Wildcat program relevant once again.
Blair will now coach against Reese and Arizona in the Sweet 16 on Saturday at 5 p.m. at San Antonio. Texas A&M, the No. 2 seed in the Mercado Region at 25-2, survived in an 84-82 overtime win over No. 7 Iowa State after No. 3 Arizona (18-5) pulled out a 52-46 win over No. 11 BYU.
Blair mentioned that Reese’s parents William and Cheryl graduated from Texas A&M.
“I know a lot about Reese … what a quality young lady,” Blair said after the win over Iowa State. “I remember her high school career, but she went to Arizona to follow her sister (Ali) out there who was also playing.
“I didn’t have a chance to really go hard after her. Give coach Barnes so much credit for building that team, blending in a few transfers, blending in what she’s going to need because that is probably the best rebuilt program that we’ve seen in the last five to six to seven years. Coach Barnes and her staff should deserve a lot of credit.”
He added about Reese, “I hope Reese’s parents are still happy we’re playing each other because they’re good people.”
Ali Reese played at Arizona as a freshman walk-on in 2017-18 after she joined Barnes’ staff as a student manager. She and Cate were teammates at Cypress Woods High School.
Blair said McDonald is a “complete package” as a point guard reading her stat line of 17 points and 11 rebounds in the win over BYU.
“She will be drafted in the top 10 (of the WNBA draft),” Blair mentioned. “I know a lot about McDonald, but I know more about my team, and I’ve got to worry about getting them in the cold tub now and getting a hot shower.
“I have to find out how to get ready. Hopefully, I can give my kids tomorrow off because we’re exhausted.”
Before the overtime win over Iowa State, the Aggies were taken to the limit against No. 15 Troy before prevailing 84-80.
If Texas A&M does take the day off tomorrow that leaves only Friday for the Aggies to prepare for Arizona on the court.
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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.