Arizona coach Adia Barnes mentioned in a Facebook post early Wednesday morning that her star freshman point guard Kailyn Gilbert has entered the transfer portal.
Some good news: The Arizona Daily Star reported Tuesday that power forward Esmery Martinez has withdrawn from the transfer portal and the WNBA draft and will return for her fifth year in college next season. She transferred to Arizona last year after playing her first three years at West Virginia.
Barnes has yet to comment on Martinez returning.
She mentioned on the Arizona Women’s Basketball Fans page of Gilbert’s departure: “Kailyn wants to play more and be closer to home. I love that kid!!”
Gilbert, a backup point guard to Shaina Pellington, becomes the sixth player to enter the transfer portal from the 2022-23 team joining guards Madison Conner, Lemyah Hylton, Paris Clark and Lauren Fields and center Lauren Ware.
Helena Pueyo has confirmed her return for a fifth season as a guard granted because of 2019-20 and 2020-21 impacted by COVID-19.
Maya Nnaji, a freshman post player last season, has also announced she will return.
Freshman forward Montaya Dew, an early classifier who joined Arizona in December out of Las Vegas Centennial High School, will also be on the 2023-24 roster.
Class of 2023 McDonald’s All-American guard Jada Williams and forward Breya Cunningham, both of La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day School, will also figure prominently in Barnes’ rotation next season.
Gilbert was the only freshman to appear in all 32 games in the 2022-23 season. She averaged 4.9 points per game in 10.6 minutes per game.
She came to Arizona from the IMG Academy in Tampa Bay ranked No. 31 by ESPN in the Class of 2022 after averaging close to 30 points a game in her prep career.
Her top scoring performance with the Wildcats was 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting against California Baptist, making four three-pointers.
Arizona’s projected returners and recruits for the 2023-24 season:
- PG Jada Williams, Fr.
- PF Breya Cunningham, Fr.
- F Montaya Dew, Fr.
- G Helena Pueyo, Sr.
- PF Esmery Martinez, Sr.
- C Maya Nnaji, Soph.
NCAA Division I women’s basketball rosters have an allotment of 15 scholarship players, which means Barnes can fill nine spots although she will likely add six or seven players through the transfer portal to have a roster of 12-13 players.
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.