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U of A Women’s Hoops Signs No. 4 Class in the Country; Hear from Coach Barnes

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U of A Women's basketball coach Adia Barnes has a lot to be excited about this afternoon.  Apart from opening up the regular season with a noon matchup at McKale Center on Friday against Iona.  Here's the sportscast with Adia Barnes talking about her signing class:   

    Here's more from Arizona Athletics:

 Adia Barnes and the Arizona women’s basketball team have completed their 2018 class as they received five National Letters of Intent from Bryce Nixon, Cate Reese, Semaj Smith, Shalyse Smith and Valeria Trucco. ProspectsNation.com currently ranks Arizona as the fourth-best recruiting class in the country and first in the Pac-12.

“Today is an important day in the history of Arizona women’s basketball because we signed the highest-ranked class in program history,” Barnes said. “These five young women are all total package kids that are so much more than great basketball players. They are the perfect fit for our culture and they want to be a part of something special.”

Nixon, a Phoenix, Ariz. native is rated as a four-star guard by ProspectsNation.com. She has consistently been an Arcadia High School standout as she was named First-Team Division II All-Arizona while averaging 20 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals per game during her junior season. She scored in double-figures in each game and had a season-high of 31 points twice (back-to-back games). The 5’10” guard made over two three-pointers per game, had seven 7+ assist games and had eight steals in one game twice last year. Her production was solid as a sophomore as well as she averaged 20 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.

“In the past, a lot of great players left the state of Arizona and it is important to keep them home” Barnes said. “I have had a long relationship with Bryce and when I came to Arizona she was at the top of my list. She has great size for her position with a high basketball IQ. Bryce not only fits our culture on the court, but who she is as a person is aligned with our culture off the court.”

“I think Arizona is a special place,” Nixon said. “The coaches are great and I am excited to be a part of what coach Barnes is building in Tucson.”

Reese is tabbed as a five-star recruit and the fourth-best post player in the country. Coming in as the 14th-best prospect in the country, Reese will be the highest ranked prospect Arizona women’s basketball has ever signed. The Cypress, Texas native was named TABC 6A All-State two times during her high school career at Cypress Woods High School. Last year, the 6’3” forward scored 22.3 points per game and grabbed 13.2 rebounds per game. She scored over 30 points three times with a season-high of 36. Additionally, she had a stretch of 13-straight double-doubles and had one 20/20 game where she scored 27 points and had 20 rebounds. Reese had three such games where she grabbed 20 rebounds with a season-high of 22. Her sophomore season was also dominant as she scored 20.8 points per game and averaged 12.8 rebounds per game. Not only is Reese a standout on the basketball court, but she is also a force on the volleyball court.

“Cate is a flat out competitor,” Barnes said. “I have never seen anyone outwork her in any game I have seen. She has innate gifts that you can’t teach and that you don’t see every day. Cate is tough, smart and the best is yet to come with her. She is a proven winner and will help instill a championship culture into our program. She is just a beast.”

“I am excited to sign my letter of intent to play for coach Barnes,” Reese said. “We have the potential to be a strong team in the upcoming years and build the foundation to become successful.”

Semaj Smith, a native of Long Beach, Calif., is rated as a five-star recruit and the No. 9 post player in the country as well as the No. 52 prospect. Smith, the tallest player in the class at 6’5”, helped lead St. Anthony High School to the semifinals of the 2017 CIF 1AA Playoffs last year by dominating in the post. She averaged an impressive 15.9 points, 15.2 rebounds and 5.7 blocks last year as a junior.

“Semaj’s production as a high school player was solid, but her upside is through the roof,” Barnes said. “She will be a force in the paint, has great hands and runs the floor well. Semaj is very family oriented and we are excited to make her a part of our Wildcat family.”

“When deciding on which school to choose I had a lot of great options, but Arizona was the only option that felt like home to me,” Smith said. “I am looking forward to playing for coach Barnes and getting to know the team even more than I did on my visit.”

Shalyse Smith was the first to commit to Arizona in the class of 2018. She is rated as a four-star forward by ProspectsNation.com as well as the No. 7 forward and the No. 48 player in the country. The Tacoma, Wash. native was named USA Today Honorable Mention All-Western Washington at Bellarmine Prep last year as she averaged 15.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, two steals and 1.6 blocks per game, helping her team to a third-place finish in the 4A State Tournament. The 6’1” exceptionally athletic forward recorded 15 double-doubles last season with eight games of 20+ points and a season high of 24 (twice). One game stood out last year for Smith on the glass as she grabbed 25 rebounds with 13 of them on the offensive end.

“The first time I saw Shalyse I knew she would be special,” Barnes said. “She is a great athlete and a fierce competitor who is incredibly versatile and plays hard every time she steps onto the court. The passion that she plays with fits who we are and what we do in our culture. I love the way she plays with a chip on her shoulder and always plays like she has something to prove. Shalyse is the type of player you would absolutely hate to play against but would love to have on your team.”

“The coaching staff and the team at Arizona is family oriented,” Smith said. “Not only do the coaches want me to grow as a basketball player, but they also want me to grow as a young woman and that’s wat means the most to me, which made it an easy choice. I’m really looking forward to competing in the Pac-12 and winning with my team and coaching staff.”

Last but certainly not least, Trucco is rated as a five-star post player by ProspectsNation.com out of Torino, Italy. The 6’4” forward is arguably one of the top young players to come out of Europe in 2018. She currently plays for the Torino Basketball Club and has been a member of the U16, U17 and U18 Italian National Teams. During her time playing with Italian National Teams, she won a Silver Medal with the Italian U17 World Championship team and competed on both the U16 and U18 Italian European Championship teams.

“Valeria comes from a basketball family as her parents both played professionally in Europe,” Barnes said. “As a 6’4” post player, her versatility is unmatched. She has a deadly three-point shot, can play in the low post and is a great passer. Valeria is the type of person I would want to spend my days with.”

“The University of Arizona is a wonderful school,” Trucco said. “The fundamental thing that made me choose Arizona is the connection with the people that I am going to work with. The coaches and my new teammates were always available, nice and warm, like the weather.”

With that, Arizona’s 4th-ranked class in the country is the highest the program has ever signed.

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