Arizona Women's Basketball

Arizona legend Aari McDonald rejoins program as director of recruiting operations

Information from the Arizona media-relations department contributed to this report:

Arizona coach Adia Barnes has announced the addition of All-American Aari McDonald to the Wildcats’ staff as director of recruiting operations.

McDonald capped her iconic career with the Wildcats in the 2020-21 season as a consensus All-American and Pac-12 Player of the Year while leading the program to its historic run to the national championship game of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

McDonald replaces Kortney Dunbar, who took an assistant coaching position with IUPUI in June.

“We are excited to welcome Aari back to our program where she left an extraordinary legacy,” Barnes said. “Her career as a Wildcat truly represents the standard of excellence our program is built on, and I can’t wait to begin another season with her as a key part of our program. Aari is an exceptional role model for current team, beloved by the Tucson community and will build a foundation for her successful coaching career here at Arizona.”

McDonald was the third overall selection of the 2021 WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream, becoming Arizona’s highest draft pick in program history. The Fresno, California native went on to be named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team in her first season as a professional. She went on to nearly double her scoring average and improve her shooting percentages in her second WNBA season.

“I want to thank Coach Barnes for giving me a chance to be a part of her staff,” McDonald said. “Tucson has always felt like a second home to me, and I am so excited to be back in this community with the best fans in the country. Most importantly, I can’t wait to help recruit future Wildcats and bring home championships.”

Her duties at director of recruiting operations include overseeing all recruiting logistics, assisting with on-campus visits, managing recruit information as well as social media content. She will serve on staff while fulfilling her WNBA commitments with the Atlanta Dream.

After transferring to Arizona as a sophomore, McDonald made history in her first season on the court for Arizona in 2018-19. She broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record by tallying 890 points, which ranks fourth in Pac-12 Conference history.

McDonald would go on to graduate from Arizona as the program’s career leader in points per game, third place in career points, a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as well as the 2020 recipient of the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award.

She was inducted into the Ring of Honor in the rafters of McKale Center in January of 2022.

The hiring of McDonald follows three personnel additions in June.

Bett Shelby, who spent the last three years as the associate head coach at West Virginia, has been hired as the special assistant to the head coach. Kayla Scott, the Stephen F. Austin director of basketball operations, is fulfilling the same role at Arizona. Create content specialist Zane Barnes, is filling a role that didn’t exist on the Arizona women’s basketball staff before.

Arizona will begin its 2022-23 season on Oct. 27 with an exhibition against West Texas A&M in McKale Center at 6 p.m.

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