Another young guard who also has improved throughout the season is Sammy Fatkin, only she plays at the two, instead of the one. Like Kyles, Fatkin was ranked highly by ESPN in high school, and was the 13th best guard in the nation.
This season so far, she has been a vital off the bench defender for the Wildcats.
“She gives us good on ball pressure. She’s very smart defensively,” Barnes said.
At 6-feet Fatkin has size that’s vital in guarding the perimeter. So far, she’s also played effectively neared the glass, and averages a rebound a game through five games so far.
“She does a lot of little things you don’t know,” Barnes said. “Like she jumps for the ball every time, and those are the things freshman don’t do so consistently.”
Fatkin has a history of high scoring too, and while she played at Glacier Peak High School in Washington, she averaged 14.3 points and seven assists a game. With a little more time and development, Fatkin could possibly be both an offensive and defensive weapon for Arizona. She has the size, the skill, and the work ethic to be an incredibly successful player.
One of the newer faces on the team is emerging as an overall leader, and more often than not, you’ll see her run the backcourt. Freshman point guard Marlee Kyles has been playing the last five game stretch with fury, averaging almost 12 points and three rebounds per game.
“She’s super aggressive,” Barnes said. “That’s a dynamic we don’t normally have, so I like that.”
Kyles plays fast, and is no stranger to high tempo scoring. At her high school in Elgin, Ill., Kyles averaged 19.9 points a game, and was ranked as the 23 best guard in the country by ESPN.
“She’s tough, she doesn’t back down from people,” Barnes said.
As the regular season unfolds, expect to see a lot of offensive action, and a little more composure from Kyles.
“She’s still playing like freshman, and she makes a lot of freshman mistakes... but she’s always trying,” said Barnes. “Marlee is getting better every game.”
Sam Thomas has been the best all-around player of this young bunch so far in the season. You could even make an argument that she is the Wildcats most valuable player, able to affect the game in a multitude of ways.
Thomas has been a near triple-double threat despite not achieving the milestone officially this season. In the Wildcats game against TCU Thomas poured in 20 points and seven rebounds without committing a turnover after nearly playing the entire game.
The most impressive aspect of Thomas is how her teammates have responded to her infectious attitude. The often quiet, reserves Thomas, becomes vocal and loud in practice. She has impressed her teammates not only with her ability on the court but with the attitude she has off of it. Thomas could be an All-Pac-12 Freshman Team selection if she continues at the pace she has begun at.
Thomas was the highest rated recruit from this freshman class. She hails from Centennial High School in Nevada and was the highest ranked player in the state after leading her team to a state championship with a 33-1 record as a junior.
According to Arizona Athletics, Barkhoff was rated as a three-star forward by ESPN.com out of Kitzingen, Germany and was rated as the 59th-best forward in the country. She played her high school basketball at Palm Harbor High School in Palm Harbor, Fla., where she helped her team achieve a 24-8 record last season.
She was ranked in the top 20 nationally for most blocks throughout the season and holds the record for most blocks in a game (15), most blocks in a season (198), most career blocks (374), rebounding average (10.2) and double-doubles in a season (15). Barkhoff played some club ball for DJK Würzburg, which is the same club where Dirk Nowitzki started his career.
Barkhoff has yet to see significant minutes for the Wildcats in the early going. However, her size and simply the need for another body may give her more minutes than she is currently getting.
She has the biggest wingspan on the team and is the tallest player at 6’3. Having another player the caliber of Barkhoff is a nice coo for a program desperately in need of players this season.
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