Imagine Arizona’s leading scorer transferring to Arizona State.
How would that be received in Tucson?
Not too well.
But the circumstances of Jade Loville leaving Arizona State for its arch-rival, Arizona, this season are reasonable.
Her coach with the Sun Devils, Charli Turner-Thorne, retired after last season and one of the best teams in the Pac-12 — Arizona — was right down the road.
Loville, who is finishing her college eligibility at Arizona this season, is facing her former team first in the friendly confines of McKale Center rather than at Tempe when the Wildcats (10-1) play the Sun Devils (7-4) on Thursday night at 6 p.m.
Adia Barnes, long enamored with Loville’s toughness and shooting ability, has commented before that she does not know how she lost Loville during the recruiting process when Loville first signed with Boise State and then transferred to Arizona State.
The 5-foot-11 wing was the second-leading scorer in the Pac-12 last season with 16.6 points per game. She shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from 3-point range.
She had a game-high 27 points in Arizona State’s upset of No. 6 Arizona in February at Tempe.
Loville averaged 17.1 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game as a junior at Boise State.
She is gradually coming into her own with Arizona’s balanced lineup — something she was not accustomed to at Boise State or Arizona State when she was the definable leading scorer — averaging 12.8 points per game while shooting 51 percent from 3-point range.
Her father is three-time Super Bowl champion running back Derek Loville formerly of the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos.
“He taught me how to work, and that’s with anything whether it be on the court or off the court,” Jade Loville said of her dad and parents in the school’s Web site. “Nothing in life is handed to you. From a very young age, I was challenged to do things that other kids weren’t doing. Everything is kind of a competition. You get home from school, the first thing you want to do is your homework because then you don’t have to think about it. First thing you do when you wake up is you want to work out so you don’t have to think about it and you’re not putting it off.
“They just feel the gratitude of getting to wake up and work. It’s not something that everyone gets to do, so you have to find the positive light in doing it. I think that taught me to embrace the work and embrace the grind, and I’m very thankful for them.”
— Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in steals per game (13.3). That also ranks sixth in the nation.
– Arizona ranks 15th nationally in scoring, averaging 82.6 points per game and is 12th in the country in scoring margin at 23.9.
– Arizona is the lone team in the Pac-12 with four players averaging at least 11.9 points per game — Shaina Pellington (13.7), Loville (12.8), Cate Reese (12.0) and Esmery Martinez (11.9).
– Martinez, a transfer from West Virginia, reached the 1,000-point benchmark at UT Arlington last week with a bucket at 5:31 in the second quarter. Martinez (1,009 points) is the fourth active Wildcat to hit that milestone joining Reese (1,660), Loville (1,331) and Pellington (1,290).
– Martinez tied her season high for rebounds in the game against Baylor with 15. She has totaled 10 or more rebounds in five games this season.
– Martinez is averaging 9.8 rebounds per game (third in the Pac-12) and has totaled 108 rebounds (third in the Pac-12). She leads the team in offensive rebounds with 42.
– Martinez is one of two players in the Pac-12 averaging 11.9 or more points and 9.8 or more rebounds per game.
– Every Wildcat who saw the court against UT Arlington scored, marking the fourth game this year in which everyone who played scored.
– With 21 UT Arlington turnovers, Arizona continued its streak of forcing 17 or more turnovers in every game this season.
– The Wildcats tied their season high for single-game assists with 21 at UT Arlington.
– Reese finished the game against UT Arlington with 10 points for her eighth game in double digits this season. She has scored 10+ points in four consecutive games.
– Pellington is one of four players in the conference averaging at least 13.7 points per game with a field goal percentage of at least 55.2%
– Kailyn Gilbert is one of five Pac-12 freshmen averaging at least 7.8 points per game and shooting 43.2% or better from the field.
– Loville ranks 43rd nationally in 3-point field goal percentage at 51 percent.
– Helena Pueyo, named team captain Nov. 29, is tied for second in the Pac-12 in steals per game with 2.4.
ARIZONA STATE NOTES
– Arizona State has experience of playing and winning in a raucous environment when the Sun Devils beat Grand Canyon 80-72 on Nov. 30. A crowd of 6,019 attended the game at the GCU Arena. Arizona State outscored Grand Canyon 35-18 in the fourth quarter to pull off the win.
– When Arizona State hired Natasha Adair from Delaware to replace Turner-Thorne, Barnes offered a tweet welcoming her. The coaches have a mutual admiration for each other.
“We’re preparing for their aggressiveness and what they’re known for,” Adair told AZCentral.com. “It’s going to always be about us and how we respond, how we get off to a good start, sustain that intensity and effort for 40 full minutes and not having those letdowns. We’re a team that is going to continue to talk about defense and winning the hustle plays and setting the tone from the tip.”
– The Sun Devils started the season 5-0 for the first time since 2002-03. A series of injuries gave Adair an unexpected challenge which played a major role in the team’s three-game losing streak earlier this month. As of Tuesday, Adair said that seven players could be available for Thursday’s game. She also said the ongoing travel issues around the country had two players unable to practice on Tuesday.
– As of Dec. 23, Tyi Skinner, who transferred to Arizona State from Delaware, where she played for Adair, is 15th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 in scoring (20.6 points per game) and tied for No. 2 in the Pac-12 with Charisma Osborne of UCLA with six 20-point games. Alissa Pili (Utah) and Charlisse Leger-Walker (Washington State) are tied for the Pac-12 lead with seven.
All of Skinner’s 20-point games have come over ASU’s last nine games. The stretch included consecutive 24-point efforts at New Mexico and against American and a pair of career-high 29-point games at Grand Canyon and against Missouri. Skinner’s six 3-pointers against Missouri were one short of tying the single-game school record.
– Skinner has scored in double figures in every game while fellow junior guard Jaddan Simmons has scored in double figures in all but one game she has played in. Simmons is 13th in the Pac-12 in scoring (13.7 points per game).