Arizona Women's Basketball

Sam Thomas announces return in 2021-22

Sam Thomas announces her decision to return with assistant coaches Salvo Coppa and Jackie Nared Hairston behind her along with head coach Adia Barnes Coppa. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

Arizona 6-foot senior forward Sam Thomas announced she will return for the 2021-22 season at Monday’s celebration ceremony at Arizona Stadium.

Thomas made the announcement to a loud round of applause from the fans who attended the event welcoming back the Wildcats from their first trip to the Final Four and national championship game at San Antonio.

“I actually knew for quite a while, it was just if my decision was going to change or not,” Thomas said of her decision. “I mean, why not take an extra year of college playing with Adia (Barnes), playing with my teammates?

”I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to change my mind.”

Barnes mentioned she knew Thomas was returning but tried to keep it a secret in case that planned changed.

”I am so happy. She wanted do it here in front of you guys,” Barnes said to reporters. “She’s great. She’s our leader. She’s our captain.

“She plays the one through five (point guard through center). She’s a great person. To have someone like her for our culture and to win a championship, she is going to be the one who helps us.”

Before Thomas made her announcement, the crowd chanted, “One more year! One more year!”

Trinity Baptiste, another senior, has not announced her decision.

The NCAA is allowing players to restore their eligibility for next season due to the uncertainty of games played this year due to COVID-19.

Aari McDonald, a fifth-year senior, has announced she will move on to the WNBA.

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