Adia Barnes stocks one of the best frontcourts in the nation with Cunningham’s involvement
A key game that fueled Arizona’s rise to a nationally recognized program was the Wildcats’ 83-54 home loss to Oregon in the 2018-19 season.
The Ducks clinched at least part of the Pac-12 title that day, March 1, 2019, by beating Arizona 19-0 — yes, 19-0 — in the fourth quarter en route to victory at McKale Center .
Oregon’s Postal Player Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard (both 6-foot-4) were unstoppable on offense and effectively shut down Ari McDonald off the track with their size and athleticism. Sabally and Hebard combined for 32 points on 15 of 22 shots from the field and 19 rebounds in the game.
The presence of Sabally and Hebard eased the offensive flow for Sabrina Ionescu Having 22 points in 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
“We’re not there as a team, as a culture, as a program, but we will be.” Adia Barnes said after this loss. “It just shows you where we need to be and what level we need to play at.”
Barnes has Arizona at this level, not only because of the magical run to the Final Four in 2021, but also with their hiring of top-class inside players over the past two years.
— Breya Cunningham (@BreyaC2023) June 19, 2022
The commitment of 6-4 five-star post players Breya Cunningham of La Jolla (California) Today’s Country Day is Arizona’s latest development with one of the best frontcourts in the nation. She hails from the San Diego area where Barnes played in high school.
Cunningham is ranked #10 in the Class of 2023 according to ESPN’s HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings.
Montaya dewa 6-2 forward from Las Vegas Centennial High School, is ranked No. 9. She signed for Barnes and Arizona last December.
Dew and Cunningham are set to be on the same roster as 6-4 next year Maya Nnaji and 6-5 post players Lauren Ware in one of the most impressive frontcourts in the country.
UCLA, USC, Oregon and Texas were the other finalists in the running for Cunningham, who is quite athletic, especially for her size. She plans to study athletic training and kinesology in Arizona.
Cunningham’s first sport was gymnastics when she was 4 years old. Her mother turned her to basketball after realizing that very tall gymnasts were not common.
“I can still do a mean cart, though,” Cunningham told the San Diego Union-Tribune in a January article.
Cunningham was dominant in the San Diego Section championship game that season against Mission Hills, finishing with 25 points on 12-of-14 shots from the field and 13 rebounds despite facing doubles and triples teams.
— Breya Cunningham (@BreyaC2023) June 26, 2022
In three collegiate seasons, Cunningham has 1,335 points, 872 rebounds, 173 blocks and 104 steals.
“I chose the school (Arizona) based on four things – education, development on and off the field, support and NIL opportunities,” Cunningham said in a video she posted to Twitter on Sunday. “Tucson, I’m coming home.”
The video shows Cunningham briefing Arizona’s coaches and players on her signing during her official visit last weekend. They all celebrated with confetti in the air and balloons.
From that scoreless fourth quarter against Oregon to now, Arizona has literally gone through a major transformation.
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Javier Morales, Publisher, Writer and Editor of ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com, is a past Arizona Press Club honoree. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News, and Baseball America, among many other publications. He is also the author of the book The Highest Form of Living, available on Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is currently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.