Arizona Women's Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Notes: Aari McDonald draws praise in WNBA preseason game


Aari McDonald during training camp with the Atlanta Dream (Atlanta Dream photo)

The Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland covered Wednesday night’s Atlanta Dream-Washington Mystics preseason game — that was more like a scrimmage — tonight at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., and had this to write about Aari McDonald’s debut at that level:

“Dream guard Aari McDonald, the No. 3 pick in the draft who led Arizona to the NCAA championship game, scored seven points in her WNBA debut. The lightning-quick 5-foot-6 guard looked every bit as hard to stay in front of as she did in the NCAA tournament.”

McDonald did not score in double-figures — like she did in 93 straight games throughout her Arizona career — but, remember, this is only a preseason affair that did not include fans and was not televised.

She played 17 minutes off the bench and attempted only five shots, making two. She was 1 of 2 from beyond the arc. She made both of her free throws and had three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

McDonald joins Nike family

Nike’s marketing campaign showing Aari McDonald as one of its rookie athletes

Nike Basketball announced Wednesday that McDonald is one of seven WNBA rookies to join its “family.”

The company noted in a statement: “Nike Basketball is honored to welcome seven WNBA rookies to the family: Charli Collier, Rennia Davis, Awak Kuier, Aari McDonald, Michaela Onyenwere (formerly of UCLA), DiDi Richards and Iliana Rupert. These women embody what it means to be a Nike athlete, both with their on-court athleticism and off-court authenticity.”

Nike did not release the financial terms of the arrangement with these seven rookies.

Lauren Ware vying for U.S. U19 World Cup team

Arizona’s 6-foot-5 post player Lauren Ware has been invited to the 2021 USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team Trials and is one of 27 athletes who accepted an invitation and will compete for one of the 12 spots on the team.

Trials to select finalists for the 12-member team will be held May 14-16 at Metro State University in Denver.

UCLA head coach Cori Close is serving as the 2021 USA U19 World Cup Team head coach, and college head coaches Aaron Johnston from South Dakota State University and Joni Taylor from Georgia are assistant coaches.

Featuring U19 teams from 16 nations, the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup is scheduled to be held Aug. 7-15 in Debrecen, Hungary. In addition to the USA and host Hungary, teams that will take part in this summer’s U19 World Cup include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, Mali, Russia, South Korea and Spain.

Lauren Ware was a defensive standout at the post for Arizona (Arizona Athletics photo)

Interesting to note that if Ware makes the team, it will cut into her preseason workouts with Dave Rubio’s volleyball team, but that will not be an issue because of the opportunity.

Ware played a large role on the Arizona team that played in the program’s first Final Four this season. She played in all 27 games of the season and was second on the team in blocks and fourth on the team in rebounds.

She had a double-double in her third career game vs. USC, scoring a season-high 12 points to go along with 12 rebounds and had her second-career double-double vs. Idaho with 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, including eight offensive rebounds.

Ware had 10 games with at least five rebounds on the season and blocked a shot in 21 of Arizona’s 27 games, She had three blocks twice.

A look at the 2021-22 roster

It has been widely speculated — and rightfully so — for more than a week that USC sophomore point guard Endyia Rogers is a likely candidate to transfer to Arizona out of the transfer portal.

Adia Barnes commented during today’s press conference that she wants to add a talented point guard transfer to her roster of whom has relationships with the program.

Endyia Rogers’ potential transfer to Arizona would literally make Adia Barnes’ roster loaded (USC photo)

Rogers was an All-Pac-12 selection at USC who played under Arizona’s new assistant coach Erin Grant and she has a background with Jason Terry growing up playing youth basketball in Dallas.

If (or when) Rogers joins Arizona’s program, this is what the loaded roster will look like by position (with all 16 scholarship spots filled — Sam Thomas’ scholarship does not work against Arizona since she is a returning senior because of COVID-19 protocols):

Point guards

Endyia Rogers

Shaina Pellington

Derin Erdogan

Shooting guards

Anna Gret Asi

Taylor Chavez

Madison Conner

Small forwards

Helena Pueyo

Sam Thomas

Bendu Yeaney

Power forwards

Ariyah Copeland

Cate Reese

Koi Love

Gisela Sanchez

Centers

Semaj Smith

Aaronette Vonleh

Lauren Ware


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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.

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