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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball media day breakdown

Nathanial Stenchever

Maya Nnaji (34) and teammate Paris Clark (22) talk with a reporter during media day in McKale Center on Sept. 30. Nnaji is a 6-foot-4 freshman from Minnesota and Clark is a 5-foot-8 freshman from New York.

The Arizona women’s basketball team stepped out on the court on Sept. 30 to discuss specific things they worked on over the summer and what they are looking forward to in this upcoming season. 

5th year | Shaina Pellington | 5-foot-8 | G

Last year, Pellington represented Canada on the national team in the 2020 Olympic Games over the summer in Tokyo. She transferred to the University of Arizona after her sophomore year playing at the University of Oklahoma. Pellington is an outstanding point guard that is fast and makes quick decisions. Over the summer, she worked on her consistency from her outside perimeter shooting with lots of repetition. 

Sophomore | Madison Conner | 5-foot-11 | G

Last year was Conner’s first year as a Wildcat, and she played in 28 games. She is a key player on the team with a high shooting average. She is a talented point guard that was the first to receive an offer in her class.

“My biggest improvement from last season is my physical attributes; I have been working on getting strong in the weight room,” Conner said. 

Freshman | Lemyah Hylton | 5-foot-11 | G

Hylton is from Ontario, Canada, and will play her first season as a Wildcat. She played at Southwest Academy Girls Preparatory. Hylton can pass, defend and score. Overall, she is a well-rounded player with lots of potential. She is a 4-star guard that chose Arizona over four other top schools. 

Senior | Esmery Martinez | 6-foot-2 | F 

Esmery Martinez, a West Virginia University transfer player, made All-Big 12 First Team in 2021. She is an excellent add-on to the Arizona women’s basketball team’s offense. Head coach Adia Barnes won over Martinez when she was deciding where to transfer. Martinez can be found in the paint rebounding for Arizona. One thing Martinez decided she wanted to bring to the team this year is energy.

“My energy, I have been trying to get the team ready to go with excitement” Martinez said. 

Senior | Helena Pueyo | 6-foot | G

Last year, Pueyo dominated in defense and was an All-Defensive Team Honorable Mention. Pueyo played in all 29 games last season and looks ready for this upcoming season. Pueyo is originally from Palma de Mallorca, Spain but has made Arizona her home. She had to adjust her style of play by being more physical, so this off-season she worked on her strength. 

Freshman | Kailyn Gilbert | 5-foot-8 | G

Kailyn Gilbert is a new freshman from Tampa Bay, Fla., that attended IMG Academy. Her position is a point guard. Gilbert was selected for the USA Basketball U18 team. She was a highly sought player that has an impressive history of high school basketball organization selections. As part of being on the team, Gilbert has stated that she wants to “be in the moment and take it all in”. 

Freshman | Paris Clark | 5-foot-8 | G

Paris Clark is originally from the Bronx, N.Y. Her current position is a guard. Clark has great court awareness, manufactures and is a disruptive defender. She is a great addition to the team this year. 

“I have been working on my jump shot and getting that more consistent with that” Clark said. 

Senior | Lauren Fields | 5-foot-9 | G

The former Oklahoma State University leading scorer Lauren Fields went into the transfer portal and was picked up by the University of Arizona. Previously having a 15.4 point-per-game average, she will be a threat to future teams. This summer, Fields discussed wanting to improve a few things in her game. 

“[I am improving] on my consistency, wanting my stats to show improvement,” Fields said. 

5th year | Cate Reese | 6-foot-2 | F

An absolute force to be reckoned with, Cate Reese has been All-Pac-12 for the past three years and last year received AP All-American Honorable Mention. Reese is coming off of a shoulder injury and was just cleared for contact after 7 months of recovery. Reese dominates the court as a forward and is coming off of scoring 14.3 points per game last season.

5th year | Jade Loville | 5-foot-11 | G/F

Jade Loville is a transfer portal player that originally played at ASU, but just recently was picked up by the UA. 

“I have been working on being an all-around player by not just scoring. I am working on passing and defending by working with my trainers,” Loville said.

Loville is excited to play Baylor and thinks it will be fun match-up between the two teams. 

Junior | Lauren Ware | 6-foot-5 | F

Lauren Ware just keeps getting better. She started in 22 games last year and improved her scoring average from freshman year. Ware wants to improve her overall game this season.

“[I am improving] my strength as well as improving my shot. I am working with my coaches on proper form and accuracy as I head into the new season,” Ware said. 

Freshman | Maya Nnaji | 6-foot-4 | F

Maya Nnaji is from Hopkins, Minn., and she played basketball at her local high school. In high school, Nnaji was known for having great footwork, delivering efficiently in the paint and being a great defender. Nnaji’s brother, Zeke Nnaji, also played at Arizona during the 2019 season before being a first-round pick in the NBA Draft. 

According to Nnaji, she has been working on “building [her] skills because [she knows] that it’s a big transition from high school to college.”

Follow Delaney Penn on Twitter 

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