Everything is bigger in Texas and for head coach, Adia Barnes and the Arizona women’s basketball team there was no bigger signing than Lone Star State native, Cate Reese.
The 6-foot-3 forward was a highly scouted five-star recruit out of Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas. Her commitment to Arizona sets the foundation to building a respectable program that managed a mere six wins last year.
Reese has yet to score her first points in a Wildcats uniform but already she has made school history. The women’s basketball team has lacked a McDonald’s All-American until now.
Ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the post and 14th-best player overall per ESPN. Even more impressive, Reese comes in as the highest ranked prospect the Wildcats have ever signed.
Colorado, Oklahoma and Washington were just a few of the many offers that poured in for Reese’s services but it was Barnes and her vision of what she is trying to build at Arizona that intrigued Reese. To sweeten the deal it didn’t hurt that Reese’s older sister, Ali, who was apart of the team last season may have had somewhat of an influence in her decision as well.
“I chose Arizona because I liked what head coach Adia Barnes was building and being able to be with my sister was a plus,” Reese said.
Although Ali has been at Arizona a year longer, it was Cate who visited the campus first during the winter of her junior year in high school on an unofficial visit. When Cate returned to Tucson for her official visit, Ali tagged along and they both decided Arizona was the place for them.
Competitor, aggressive, [and] physical were all words used by teammates and coaches in describing Reese at the team’s official media day.
“Cate is a fierce competitor,” Barnes said. “Cate is the one that will dive, knock you over, dive in your legs. I love that and I love coaching that.”
As much as Barnes loves coaching a player like Reese her teammates love playing along side her as well. Destiny Graham a senior on the team likes what she has seen thus far from the young talented freshman.
“I just love how she get’s after it and she doesn’t get down on herself,” Graham said. “Playing with her is really fun but playing against her is hard.”
Head assistant coach, Salvo Coppa concurred with Grahams assessment of Reese.
“She works hard, she has a lot of intensity during practices and she’s very aggressive. That’s the thing that I like most about her,” Coppa said.
Based off the scouting report from her coaches and teammates, it’s easy to identify how Reese plays the game. As good as it may be to have such a quality it can also potentially have some setbacks.
“We’re going to have to keep her out of fouling because she’s so aggressive but I don’t mind,” Barnes said.
Scoring comes natural to Reese and the Wildcats will need every point she can get as Arizona averaged a low 57.9 points per game last season. During her junior year of high school Reese scored 22.3 points per game along with 13.2 rebounds she followed that her senior year averaging 30.6 points while snatching 15.3 boards.
Coming in as freshman Reese acknowledged some of her strengths are the ability to run the floor and grab rebounds. Controlling the boards will be crucial for the Wildcats who averaged 31.9 rebounds per game last year to their opponents 40.5 rpg.
Despite it being her first year, Barnes and her staff has seen the work ethic Reese possesses and expects it will pay off as the season goes on and Reese continues to grow through practice and playing time.
“She just wants to be good so bad. She really brings a level of intensity for practice up because of how hard she works,” Barnes said.
As for expectations, Barnes see’s the young freshman having numerous opportunities to establish herself.
“She’s an impact player. She will get a lot of minutes and I expect her to go out and do what she does,” Barnes said. “I think she will have a lot of opportunities here.”
Follow Alex Munoz on Twitter