Arizona Women's Basketball

Aari McDonald studying for master’s degree while finding niche in WNBA

Aari McDonald is working hard as usual on the court trying to find her place in the WNBA while studying diligently toward her master’s degree in applied behavior analysis with online courses offered by Arizona.

A recent Atlanta Constitution-Journal story mentions the Atlanta Dream rookie has two semesters remaining to finish her master’s degree studies.

“That time (to study) is always carved out,” McDonald told the Journal-Constitution. “It can get frustrating sometimes, so I take breaks to regroup.

“Once I get my master’s, I’m going to buy myself something very expensive. I deserve it. It’ll be great.”

Aari McDonald has played her first six games in the WNBA coming off the bench and she is increasingly gaining her confidence (Atlanta Dream photo)

Her first training camp with the Dream was during the middle of final exams last month at Arizona. Photos showed McDonald bringing her laptop to practice to complete spring semester courses.

“Aari works hard. She knows what business she has to handle because she gets it done,” said veteran guard Courtney Williams, a 2016 first-round WNBA draft pick. “Aari has her head on straight in order to be successful.”

McDonald is coming off a career-high 15 points Friday in the Dream’s 86-84 loss at the Minnesota Lynx. It was her first game scoring in double figures in the WNBA after achieving that feat 93 straight times at Arizona.

“It’s very impressive. She’s doing a fabulous job,” Dream interim coach Mike Petersen said. “A player who has good focus, good work ethic and will be a good player. It’s a matter of finding her place and her role, and it’s my job to help her with that.”

Petersen is learning his way also after Nicki Collen left for the Baylor job when training camp already started.

McDonald didn’t play in the Dream’s first win of the season at the Indiana Fever May 21 because Petersen said he admitted he lost track of rotations. He inserted McDonald early nod in the following game at the Chicago Sky.

She made her first 3-pointer in the WNBA that game and started to exude the confidence she showed at Arizona, while using her speed to make plays off the dribble.

“She went all gas, no brakes,” Petersen said. “It was awesome.”

“That was the Retro Aari. I showed what I could do on both ends of the floor while being effective and efficient,” McDonald said. “I had that instant impact on the floor, and it felt really good.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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

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