Arizona forward Cate Reese, a McDonald’s All-American who came on strong during the postseason as a true freshman, will not be a one-and-done prospect like her male counterparts.
The WNBA does not offer the lucrative contracts that the NBA does for freshmen who leave early. Shoe companies are not cutting corners and trying to get a throng of top women high school and college players to market their shoes when they move on to the WNBA.
“I think it helps too because I am here at Arizona, and I’m getting better as a player,” Reese said after producing 13 points and nine rebounds in the 56-42 win over Northwestern Saturday at McKale Center. “If I want to do something after four years, I could play in the WNBA or go overseas, but I’m also getting my education now.
“I think that’s important because I’ve always heard of what happens after you get injured. You have to have a fallback plan. Not only am I going to get to play for three more years but I’m going to have an education when I decide to get done with basketball.”
— Arizona Women's Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) April 6, 2019
Reese, a quality pre-business student at Arizona, averaged 13.4 points and 6.6 rebounds a game while shooting 58 percent from the field in the Wildcats’ eight postseason games (Pac-12 Tournament and WNIT). Those type of numbers on the men’s side would make a freshman think he’s good enough to enter the NBA draft.
If all goes as planned, Adia Barnes will be able to coach Reese for four years. Sean Miller will never get the chance to coach a McDonald’s All-American for four years.
Pantoja Again a Ref in NCAA Women’s Title Game
A day after Brenda Pantoja’s 1996 WNIT championship teammate — Barnes — coached their alma mater to the WNIT title, Pantoja refereed the NCAA women’s title game between Baylor and Notre Dame.
Pantoja, a standout point guard for Joan Bonvicini at Arizona from 1992 to 1996, has worked the last three championships.
Bonvicini tweeted this response to the comment that she must be proud of Barnes and Pantoja:
— Joan Bonvicini (@CoachBonvicini) April 8, 2019
NCAA Champ Baylor Lacking in Fan Support Compared to Arizona in Postseason
Baylor won the NCAA women’s title game over Notre Dame on Sunday, but on its trek to the title in the NCAA tournament, the Bears could not manage the fan support Arizona had in the WNIT.
Sellout: 14,644 in McKale. pic.twitter.com/JRbC4FpPAJ
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) April 6, 2019
Baylor did not sell out the 10,284-seat Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, in two NCAA tournament games. In a first round game against Abilene Christian, a crowd of 6,669 showed up. In the next round, only 5,367 attended a win over Cal.
With the amount of success Barnes’ team experienced at McKale Center — selling 45,602 in six WNIT games — fans should pack the arena for NCAA tournament games in the future. It would be a shocker otherwise.
Eight Sahuaro Athletes Signing Letters of Intent Monday
Sahuaro High School has scheduled a press conference Monday to announce eight of its athletes moving on to college in their respective sports by signing a national letter of intent. The list includes:
Brianna Jackson, Softball — Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Claudia Roller, Soccer — Goucher College (Towson, Md.)
Kingsley Igwu, Football — Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College
Lourdes Heslep, Basketball — Arizona Christian University
Susana Heslep, Basketball — Arizona Christian University
Trayvion White-Austin, Track — Arizona Central Community College
Alaysha Grissette, Volleyball — Dodge City (Kan.) College
Kemuel (K.J.) Redlin, Tennis — Pima Community College
Another Sahuaro standout, Alyssa Brown, who already has more than 1,000 career points going into her junior season next year, had a successful weekend with her AAU team — AZ Supreme — in a tournament this weekend in Phoenix.
She is slated soon to take an unofficial visit of Arizona’s campus. When she concludes that, don’t be surprised that a scholarship offer from Barnes is forthcoming.
If Barnes can sign Brown and Sabino star Kiya Dorroh — two major Division I prospects — in the Class of 2021, that would add a local flair to a roster that will need to replace potential All-American Aari McDonald and all-conference performer Sam Thomas in 2021-22.
Rich Utter Formally Given Suns’ 2019 Spirit of Cotton Award
Longtime Rincon basketball coach Rich Utter was presented the Spirit of Cotton Award by the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. The late Cotton Fitzsimmons’ wife JoAnn presented Utter with the plaque, a ring and $10,000 from Suns Charities for the Rangers athletic department.
Tucson Rincon Coach Rich Utter presented the Spirit of Cotton Award tonight! Cotton Fitzsimmons wife JoAnn with the plaque, a ring and $10,000 from Suns Charities for the Rangers athletic department! #suns pic.twitter.com/Na73HeE4yS
— Kevin McCabe (@KevinMcCabeFSAZ) April 4, 2019
Utter, who has coached at Rincon for almost 40 years, was given the award for his contribution to high school basketball in the state. He first received news of the award last week in a surprise gathering at Rincon.
Congratulations to Coach Rich Utter from Rincon High School. Phoenix Suns Charities awarded him a $10,000 grant to use in the school’s athletic program. https://t.co/ENxTVX1Mj2
— KVOA News 4 Tucson (@KVOA) April 1, 2019
Red Sox Star Benintendi Played Basketball For Salpointe’s Reynolds
Boston’s World Series championship contributor from a year ago — left fielder Andrew Benintendi — has a background playing basketball for Salpointe coach Jim Reynolds.
Benintendi was more of a baseball star at Madeira (Ohio) High School, but he was also a basketball standout for Reynolds when Reynolds coached there. Benintendi earned 2011-12 Cincinnati Enquirer Division III Co-Player of the Year honors and set school records in career points (1,753) and season points (638), career 3-pointers (180), and points per game in a season (25.5).
Reynolds coached at Madeira for 25 years before retiring there following the 2014-15 season. He and his wife moved to Tucson to be closer to their son Ryan, who is the director of basketball operations at Arizona.
After serving as a volunteer coach at Pusch Ridge in 2016-17, assisting then-head coach David Thomas, Jim Reynolds was hired by Salpointe before the 2017-18 season.
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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.