TUCSON, Ariz. (Arizona Athletics) - University of Arizona head women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes signed a new contract to lead the program through the 2023-24 season.
Barnes led the Wildcats to a 24-win season in 2018-19 that culminated with a WNIT championship and marked the program’s most wins in a season in 15 years.
“Adia Barnes has built an exciting program and a culture of excellence since returning as the head coach at the University of Arizona,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke. “Arizona Women’s Basketball is a program that has achieved tremendous success on the court, in the classroom and in our community. Adia is an outstanding coach, leader and mentor to her student-athletes, which has allowed the program to reach new heights and be positioned for a very bright future. We all look forward to many more exciting seasons under Adia’s leadership.”
Arizona posted an impressive mark of 24-13 last season, which included an 18-win improvement from the year before as the biggest single-season turnaround in program history. The Wildcats won the 2019 WNIT title in front of record-breaking crowds at McKale Center. The six postseason wins were played in front of a total crowd of 45,602 fans. Arizona broke program and Pac-12 attendance records with a sellout crowd of 14,644 for the championship game victory over Northwestern.
“I would like to thank Dave Heeke and President Robbins from the bottom of my heart for trusting me to lead this amazing program and for always being our biggest fans,” said Barnes. “I would also like to thank Erika Barnes, Suzy Mason and Rocky LaRose for supporting me ever since I was a student-athlete here at Arizona. It has been a blessing to lead this program, and I am truly grateful for the support from our leadership and administration. Our community in Tucson and the University of Arizona is special, and I can’t think of a better place to call home. The rise of our program has been powered by an amazing group of student-athletes who represent what this program stands for on and off the court. I can’t wait to continue to coach these young women and take the program to another level.”
Sophomore Aari McDonald earned national accolades in 2018-19 after breaking the school’s single season scoring record, previously held by Barnes. McDonald was an Associated Press and WBCA Honorable Mention All-American while also being selected to the All-Pac-12 and Defensive All-Pac-12 teams.
Cate Reese, a piece of Arizona’s highest-rated recruiting class ever, was a 2018-19 Pac-12 All-Freshmen Team selection after earning Freshman of the Week honors on three separate occasions during the season.
Barnes helped guide the Wildcats to their best year in the classroom, posting a team GPA of 3.2, which included the best semester in program history. The women’s basketball program has also won the Athletic Director’s Cup for Community Service three years in a row, which is awarded to the team who logs the most community service hours in Arizona Athletics.
In her second year as head coach, Barnes signed the highest ranked recruiting class in Arizona history as ProspectsNation.com ranked the class as the fifth-best in the country. The class of 2018 was highlighted by five-star prospect Reese, who became Arizona’s first McDonald’s All-American in program history. Reese was also named an honorable mention High School All-American by the Naismith Trophy.
Under her guidance, Sam Thomas was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team and JaLea Bennett was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2017-18. Thomas finished the season with the fourth-most rebounds for a freshman in Arizona history with 209 and scored the 10th-most points for a freshman at 306 while leading all freshmen in the Pac-12 in rebounding, steals, blocks and minutes. Additionally, all three returners from the 2016-17 season (Bennett, Lucia Alonso and Destiny Graham) all set career-highs in points and rebounds.
Barnes led the Wildcats to a 14-16 record in her first year at the helm with a 5-13 Pac-12 record. 14 wins was the most since the 2011-12 season and five conference wins was the most in the Pac-12 era for the Wildcats at the time.