Arizona women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes has signed the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation, the best ever in school history. It is said to be the best class in the Pac-12 by ProspectsNation.com.
“Today is an important day in the history of Arizona women’s basketball because we signed the highest-ranked class in program history,” Barnes said. “These five young women are all total package kids that are so much more than great basketball players. They are the perfect fit for our culture and they want to be a part of something special.”
Nixon, from Phoenix, is a four-star 5-foot-10 guard. The Arcadia High School standout was a first-team Division II All-Arizona member, averaging 20 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals per game during her junior season. She scored in double-figures in each game and had a season-high of 31 points twice (back-to-back games).
“In the past, a lot of great players left the state of Arizona and it is important to keep them home” Barnes said. “I have had a long relationship with Bryce and when I came to Arizona she was at the top of my list. She has great size for her position with a high basketball IQ. Bryce not only fits our culture on the court, but who she is as a person is aligned with our culture off the court.”
Said Nixon: “I think Arizona is a special place. The coaches are great and I am excited to be a part of what coach Barnes is building in Tucson.”
Reese, a 6-3 forward, is a five-star recruit and the fourth-best post player in the country. Coming in as the 14th-best prospect in the country, Reese is the highest ranked prospect Arizona women’s basketball has ever signed. The Cypress, Texas native was named TABC 6A All-State two times during her high school career at Cypress Woods High School. Last year, the 6’3” forward scored 22.3 points per game and grabbed 13.2 rebounds per game.
“Cate is a flat out competitor,” Barnes said. “I have never seen anyone outwork her in any game I have seen. She has innate gifts that you can’t teach and that you don’t see every day. Cate is tough, smart and the best is yet to come with her. She is a proven winner and will help instill a championship culture into our program. She is just a beast.”
Reese said: “I am excited to sign my letter of intent to play for coach Barnes. We have the potential to be a strong team in the upcoming years and build the foundation to become successful.”
Semaj Smith, a 6-5 center is from Long Beach, Calif., is a five-star recruit and the No. 9 post player in the country as well as the No. 52 prospect.
She averaged an impressive 15.9 points, 15.2 rebounds and 5.7 blocks last year as a junior.
“Semaj’s production as a high school player was solid, but her upside is through the roof,” Barnes said. “She will be a force in the paint, has great hands and runs the floor well. Semaj is very family oriented and we are excited to make her a part of our Wildcat family.”
Said Smith: “When deciding on which school to choose I had a lot of great options, but Arizona was the only option that felt like home to me. I am looking forward to playing for coach Barnes and getting to know the team even more than I did on my visit.”
Shalyse Smith was the first to commit to Arizona in the class of 2018. The 6-1 forward from Tacoma, Wash., is a four-star forward and the No. 48 player in the country. Last year, she averaged 15.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, two steals and 1.6 blocks per game, helping her team to a third-place finish in the 4A State Tournament.
“The first time I saw Shalyse I knew she would be special,” Barnes said. “She is a great athlete and a fierce competitor who is incredibly versatile and plays hard every time she steps onto the court. The passion that she plays with fits who we are and what we do in our culture. I love the way she plays with a chip on her shoulder and always plays like she has something to prove. Shalyse is the type of player you would absolutely hate to play against but would love to have on your team.”
Said Smith: “The coaching staff and the team at Arizona is family oriented. Not only do the coaches want me to grow as a basketball player, but they also want me to grow as a young woman and that’s what means the most to me, which made it an easy choice. I’m really looking forward to competing in the Pac-12 and winning with my team and coaching staff.”
Trucco, a 6-4 forward from Italy, is a five-star post player. She’s 6-4 and arguably one of the top young players to come out of Europe in 2018. She currently plays for the Torino Basketball Club and has been a member of the U16, U17 and U18 Italian National Teams. During her time playing with Italian National Teams, she won a Silver Medal with the Italian U17 World Championship team and competed on both the U16 and U18 Italian European Championship teams.
“Valeria comes from a basketball family as her parents both played professionally in Europe,” Barnes said. “As a 6-4 post player, her versatility is unmatched. She has a deadly three-point shot, can play in the low post and is a great passer. Valeria is the type of person I would want to spend my days with.”
Said Trucco: “The University of Arizona is a wonderful school. The fundamental thing that made me choose Arizona is the connection with the people that I am going to work with. The coaches and my new teammates were always available, nice and warm, like the weather.”
Information for this story came from Arizona’s Sports Communications Office