Before the women's basketball season opener, learn about the new faces on the team
Arizona women’s basketball has plenty of new faces entering the 2019-20 season. This years’ freshman class features three guards and two forwards that are all capable of cracking the rotation and earning significant minutes this year. Head Coach Adia Barnes put an emphasis on recruiting overseas for this class, as all five of the recruits from this class are from outside the United States.
Tara Manumaleuga certainly has an edge over the rest of the freshman class because she enters the 2019-20 season with a year of college basketball under her belt. Manumaleuga was with the team last January after graduating high school a semester early in Queensland, Australia, but decided to redshirt last season, making her eligible for the upcoming season. The 5-foot-10 guard was a silver medalist at the Championship Basketball School of Queensland QLD State Schools at Hillcrest Christian College while also winning a bronze medal in the 2017 U17 Australian High School Championships. She also averaged 12 points per game in the 2018 FIBA World Cup, where she played for the New Zealand National Team. Being a Wildcat runs in the family; her cousin, Brandon, played tight end for the Arizona football team from 1997-2000.
Mara Mote was the first player to join the the 2019 recruiting class back in March. She is a 5'11 guard from Cesis, Latvia, and was a member of the Junior Latvian National Team that played in the U19 World Cup this past summer. Mote is good on both sides of the ball. She averaged 10.9 points and almost 5 rebounds to go along with her 1.6 steals per game in her four World Cup contests. She was also named the MVP of the Baltic Cup and played for TTT Riga in Latvia.
The Wildcats will add some extra height to its roster with the addition of Şevval Gül from Istanbul, Turkey. The 6-foot-4 forward played for the most successful club in Turkey with the Ferenhbace women’s basketball department while also playing for the Turkish National Team. Gül averaged 11 points and 9 rebounds in the 2018 European Championships for the U18 Turkish team and will surely help this Arizona team with her rebounding and scoring ability this year.
Helena Pueyo is a 6-foot guard from Palma de Mallorca. She won a silver medal in the 2018 U18 European Championships and a bronze medal at the 2019 U19 World Cup playing for Spain. Pueyo is known for her scoring; she led her club team in both scoring and assists while shooting 51% from the field, 37% from three and 85% from the free throw line.
Birna Benonysdottir could arguably be the most important piece to this freshman class simply due to her ability to score and rebound at a high level. Benonysdottir has been playing for Iceland’s national team in the European Championships since 2016, having her best run in the 2017 European Championships when she averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds a game. She also played for Keflavik in Iceland, averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds.