The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

73° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Adia Barnes introduced as Arizona women’s basketball head coach

Courtesy Arizona Athletics
Newly hired Arizona women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes speaks to members of the press and her team at McKale Center on Tuesday, April 5. Barnes, who played at Arizona from 1994-1998, is the program’s all-time leading scorer.

After a month long search, the UA officially introduced Adia Barnes as its new women’s basketball head coach on Tuesday afternoon.

“We spent the last month working on finding who are next leader for our women’s basketball program,” Byrne said. “We believe and we know that we have found the leader for our program that’s going to allow us to win a lot of ballgames and have a great experience for our student-athletes along the way.”

Barnes, a UA alumna, was a four-year starter for the Wildcats from 1994-1998, and is the program’s all-time leading scorer, after scoring 2,237 points in. That figure also puts her ninth on the Pac-12’s all-time scoring list. She was a three-time All-Pac-12 player too.

As a senior, Barnes helped lead the program to its only Sweet Sixteen in 1998, and was the conference’s player of the year. In short, Barnes is arguably the best player in program history, but that’s not why she got the job.

“What she meant to us a student-athlete – as one of the best women’s basketball players we’ve had in the history of our program – that’s not why we hired her,” Byrne said. “We hired her because she’s a great coach, we hired her because she’s a great and skilled developer, she’s wonderful in recruiting. We talked to the student-athletes that played for her, they loved her and the experience. She cared about them academically, athletically, and socially.”

Since 2011, Barnes has been on Washington’s coaching staff, serving as a player development expert and the program’s recruiting coordinator.

Before her arrival, the Huskies were a bottom-feeder in the Pac-12, but they’ve won 20-plus games in each of the last four seasons, including a Final Four appearance this season.

“Every program goes through peaks and valleys, and I think when [I got] to Washington, that’s what it was like – we weren’t good,” Barnes said. “And we got better, and a lot of it’s a change. Maybe players respond different to different people, so I saw it at Washington – I was a part of it.”

Byrne added, “One of things that stuck out to me is as where they took over Washington and where it is today, going to a Final Four, that said a lot.”

The Wildcats haven’t had a winning season since 2010-11, putting Barnes in a similar spot to when she arrived in Washington. And she’s confident she can turnaround Arizona in a similar fashion.

“That’s what’s really promising about [Arizona],”she said. “Now I need to know where we need to be as a program, how the bar is set, and I know it’s possible,” she said. “Because in five years we did it [at Washington].”

It doesn’t hurt that she was part of a similar turnaround when she was a player at Arizona.

“We I first came here, we were not good,” Barnes said. “But then we became a Sweet Sixteen program by the time I graduated. So I’ve seen that, I’ve been a part of that. A lot of my coaching philosophy stems from first-hand experience, because I’ve been there and done that, and I’ve changed. When I was a freshman, I was not so pleasant, but when I left, I was a leader, and it’s that transformation that’s very important to me as a coach.”

The Wildcats won just 11 games in Barnes’ freshman year in 1994-95. But, in her final three seasons, they won 20-plus games in each and every one.

However, there’s no question that Barnes has a lot of work to do to create a similar turnaround. After all, the Wildcats finished 13-19 this season, and 3-15 in the Pac-12, placing them second-to-last in the conference standings. Not to mention, their roster is barren compared to the other programs in the stacked Pac-12 Conference.

At the same time, though, she believes Arizona offers everything she needs to take the program where she envisions it.

“It’s a clean slate,” Barnes said. “I think that we have every resource here available to be successful. Tell me another Pac-12 school that has better facilities, so that’s easy with our job to recruit. So there’s everything here for success, now it’s just a matter of putting it in play and adding a couple of pieces, but we have the foundation here.”

Barnes’ job certainly won’t be easy, but she couldn’t be happier to have it. She’s now in a position that she has always wanted to be in.

“I knew long-term I did see myself one day leading this program,” she said. “I was always here, and nowhere else. This is a dream job to me.”

“I’m excited for this opportunity, and I’m excited to be home here in Tucson.”

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter

More to Discover
Activate Search