The Arizona Women’s Wildcats found a lot of success this past season. And if the NCAA Tournament was never canceled due to COVID-19, it’s no question that they believed they were tournament favorites. Aari McDonald continued to shine and was the front runner in this team’s success. The redshirt Junior was a monster on the court, improving in every aspect of her game to be the team leader that she is.
The best of #ncaaW!— NCAA Women’s Basketball (@ncaawbb) March 19, 2020
Aliyah Boston headlines the AP Second Team All-America list along with Chennedy Carter, Satou Sabally, Aari McDonald and Dana Evans.
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McDonald continues to shine and is a player of many talents! She put the Wildcats on her back once again and continued to place herself as one of the top players in the PAC 12. As the challenges continued to come in front of her, McDonald rose to the occasion each night and made an impact outside of scoring. McDonald became more of a leader throughout the season understanding what was needed for her team to win ball games.
The Wildcats had a terrific season, to say the least. They jumped out the gates winning their first 13 games of the season and were winning by an average of 24 points per game. They had great execution on the floor and controlled the pace with their Alongside McDonald, the Wildcats were able to get great production out of Cate Reese, Sam Thomas, and other key contributors. Many believe that if the season were to never be canceled, the Wildcats would be front favorites to win the NCAA Championship.
McDonald averaged 20.6 points per game on nearly 46% shooting. Her scoring numbers may have been down, but her dominance remained the same. Her attack mentality on both sides of the floor brought a different life to the roster. Coach Adia Barnes was appreciative of the drive her star player brought out on the floor all season long.
McDonald was a threat from the perimeter all season long. She knows how to get to her sweet spot in the mid-range area and has no weakness on either side of the floor. McDonald also seemed to have become more comfortable penetrating to her right as well. Her ability to use either hand on offense forces the defense to figure out new ways to contain her on the floor.
McDonald had many notable games throughout this season. But the one game that stands out is when she scored 24 points against USC on January 3rd. Having a cramp in her leg, McDonald played a pivotal 37 minutes and was effective on both ends of the floor. She showed up big in the 2nd half and also trusted her teammates in the process. For girls in Helena Pueyo to come in late and knock down shots, it was a huge uplift for this Wildcats team. The girls would continue to trust in one another as momentum continued to be in their favor.
After the season, the talks have revolved around whether McDonald will return for her senior season or not? With everything that she has experienced after the past couple of seasons, it’s no question that McDonald can make the transition. But what if she had one more college season under her belt to improve even more?
McDonald returning to Arizona for her senior season is the best move for her. According to her, it was a “tough decision” to say the least. Although she can easily make the transition to the pros, why not stay in college to grow as a player? McDonald can continue to learn different schemes under Adia Barnes and her coaching staff to get prepared for the WNBA.
Staying in college, McDonald can also get another shot at a national championship. Arizona was ranked number 12 in the Top 25 but believed that they were greater than every team ahead of them. Although they didn’t have the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament, McDonald would have been on a tear. Her hunger and will to win would have put her team on another level to compete against opposing teams.
Aari McDonald continues to shine and has been on another level for the past two years. She may have not gotten much recognition compared to others. But quietly she continued to be on a tear all season long. And now that she is returning, she has another shot at her ultimate goal. McDonald will be on the hunt to bring home a championship with her Arizona teammates. But she will also continue to become a better player and leader as she will soon transition into the WNBA.
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