Just over one year ago, Sabrina Ionescu about broke the internet with her decision to forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft and the No. 1 overall pick to return to Oregon for her senior season.
That same 2016 class, quarterback Justin Herbert and men’s basketball guard Payton Pritchard, also made the decision to return to Oregon for their senior seasons and had huge impacts on their respected teams: three Pac-12 championships to be precise.
On Sunday, the women’s Pac-12 Conference received a similar revelation.
Arizona guard Aari McDonald has decided to forgo the 2020 WNBA Draft and return to Arizona for her senior year.
Aari McDonald just announced she is returning for her senior season. Huge news for @ArizonaWBB.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) March 29, 2020
HOW THIS AFFECTS OREGON
The Defensive Pac-12 Player of the Year and Wade Trophy finalist, which recognizes the top player in the country, is back for another season of college hoops.
The Wildcats are ranked at No. 7 in ESPN’s way too early preseason polls for the 2020-21 season and projected to finish second in the Pac-12 Conference behind Stanford (preseason No. 2 national rank).
Arizona (24-7, 12-6 Pac-12 play) finished fourth in the Pac-12 Conference standings and No. 12 nationally following an impressive season in Tucson.
Oregon faced Arizona twice during regular season play last season and once in postseason play in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, the Ducks winning all occasions. But McDonald did not have trouble scoring on Oregon: McDonald scored 25 points in their first meeting in Tucson; 13 points and dished out six assists in Eugene; and then 34 points in Las Vegas.
Last season, McDonald averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
Winning in Tucson was no easy feat last season either with the Wildcats posting a 13-3 home record and exponentially increasing attendance.
Despite Oregon winning on all three occasions, McDonald had her way and that was with Oregon’s defensive specialist Minyon Moore, who made life tough for opponents all season long, guarding her. And with Moore, Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally all headed for the WNBA Draft, the Ducks will have to step up defensively, and it starts with Taylor Chavez and Jaz Shelley.
This is big news for the conference indeed.
Be sure to check out the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast with Oregon head coach Kelly Graves below!