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The Daily Wildcat


Arizona’s prominent athletes: A guide to the year ahead

Jackie Cabrera

Arizona men’s basketball center Oumar Ballo dunks a ball on Thursday, Jan. 19, in McKale Center. The Wildcats won 81-66 against USC.

The University of Arizona has a historic sports landscape that’s vital for incoming Wildcats to be aware of. Many former Wildcats land in the big leagues, so take a sneak peak into some of Arizona’s top athletes. 

Men’s basketball:

Oumar BalloCenterRedshirt juniorKoulikoro, Mali

Ballo is a player who has carved out an important presence on the basketball court after transferring in from Gonzaga University before the 2021-22 season, following current head coach Tommy Lloyd. His journey from Mali to the UA reflects both his ambition and athletic prowess. 

Ballo‘s evolution into a dominant force in the paint is evident. His impact has been recognized over the last two seasons, earning Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year recognition in 2021-22 and Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year and First Team All Pac-12 honors last season

As he enters the season looking to build on an impressive 2022-23 campaign, his towering presence, lightning reflexes and leadership promise an impactful season. He will be a key contributor in the Arizona men’s basketball team’s pursuit of greatness and their ultimate goal of winning a national championship.

Caleb LoveSeniorGuardSt. Louis

Love, a seasoned senior guard for the Wildcats, brings a wealth of experience and accomplishments from his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his tenure there, Love emerged as a dominant force, securing honors like All-ACC honorable mention in 2022 and 2023 and a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team in 2021. After briefly committing to the University of Michigan, he ultimately landed in the desert less than two months later via the transfer portal.

Love‘s impact is underscored by his statistics. With a remarkable 1,476 points and 200 3-pointers, he showcased his dynamic offensive prowess and range. Renowned for strategic decision-making and adept passing, he totaled 338 assists over three seasons in Chapel Hill, averaging 3.3 assists per game

As he enters his senior year, Love‘s experience and skills promise to elevate the Wildcats’ game. His ability to read the game and orchestrate plays positions him as a pivotal asset in Arizona‘s 2023-24 plans. 

Women’s basketball:

Esmery MartinezForwardFifth-year seniorHato Mayor Del Ray, Dominican Republic

Martinez is a towering figure in women’s basketball standing at 6-foot-2. Her journey to Arizona parallels other notable Wildcats: she transferred in from West Virginia University before the 2022-23 season. 

On the court in Wildcat colors, she has showcased precision scoring and plentiful rebounding – she posted 274 rebounds, good for eighth-most in a season in program history. Her consistent excellence, marked by double-doubles, all-conference second teams and honorable mentions over the last three seasons, is a vital presence in a locker room that has seen so much turnover since the end of last season. 

In her final year of eligibility, her influence is poised to peak. Only one other key starter from last season is returning, so she will step into the position as a vocal veteran leader. Martinez will continue paving her way to the pros – she declared for the 2023 WNBA draft but decided she had unfinished business with Arizona and will grace the courts in McKale Center for one final season.

Helena PueyoGuardFifth-year seniorPalma de Mallorca, Spain

Pueyo is a basketball powerhouse, leaving a wake of excellence from the Spanish National Team to Arizona. She’s graced the Wildcats’ court with defensive prowess for the entirety of her five-year collegiate career

Transitioning from international play to Arizona, Pueyo‘s skill development shines brightest. She was a Pac-12 All Freshman honorable mention in 2020 and a Pac-12 All Defensive Team honorable mention in 2021 before fully making the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team in 2022. Her impact, much like Martinez’, is poised to peak, with her defensive finesse and leadership becoming defining elements in a very young locker room.


Jayden de LauraQuarterbackJuniorHonolulu

De Laura, the starting quarterback at Arizona, boasts an interesting football journey. His potential was spotlighted by his accolades as the 2021 Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year with Washington State University before transferring to Arizona

De Laura’s arrival immediately impacted the team and elevated the passing attack. His  3,685 yards and 25 touchdowns in a single season are third, and sixth most in program history, respectively. His adaptability and leadership as a versatile quarterback continue to flourish on the field. He has lifted the offense up around him and provided a spark to a unit that was pedestrian in the years since former starter Khalil Tate Jr. left for the NFL.

Beyond his impressive statistics, de Laura‘s leadership qualities have made a mark on the team. With each snap, his poised demeanor under pressure shines, solidifying his role as a driving force in the Wildcats‘ pursuit of success. As football season approaches, de Laura will look to build on last season and cement himself as a Wildcat name to remember.

Jacob CowingWide receiverSeniorMaricopa, Ariz.

Cowing is a wide receiver with a dynamic presence on the football field whose journey to Arizona is marked by growth and excellence. Cowing made an immediate impact upon joining the Wildcats after three seasons with the University of Texas at El Paso. He’s demonstrated an ability to make crucial catches and evade defenders while solidifying his role as a go-to receiver for de Laura

Throughout his collegiate career, he has showcased major growth in his production and an improved understanding of the game’s nuances. He burst onto the scene in his junior year with 1,354 yards and 7 touchdowns. He continued that production last season – his first with Arizona – with 1,034 yards and 7 touchdowns. All eyes are on his connection with de Laura as the Wildcats strive to keep their upward trajectory.


Emilio CoronaOutfieldSeniorSan Luis Obispo, Calif. 

Corona took the long road to the UA, a path that led him through the University of Washington and then Pima Community College, where he honed his skills and showcased his potential. 

On the field, Corona displays an ability to read pitches, connect with the ball and create scoring opportunities, all while maintaining consistent offensive output and a commanding defensive presence in the outfield. He was one of six Wildcats last season with double-digit home runs and he batted .369 on offense. On defense, he was responsible for 43 putouts and only tallied a single error. Corona‘s journey in Tucson continues to unfold and he’s poised to elevate himself even further. His seasoned skillset will mean impactful plays are to come.

Mason WhiteInfieldSophomoreTucson

White, a rising star on the Arizona baseball team and a Tucson native, seamlessly integrated his hometown roots into his sports journey. He solidified his status as a local talent to watch after being named to the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American team. A rising sophomore infielder, White‘s presence has already been established. He has transformed from a local high school standout into a key player on the Wildcats’ roster.

White‘s versatile skill set shines both offensively and defensively, elevating the team with his infield plays and plate contributions, while his connection to the community adds fuel to his drive to succeed on a broader stage. He posted 35 RBI and 10 home runs offensively along with 72 putouts and a .953 fielding percentage. With his journey in its early stages, Arizona is poised to benefit from his ongoing growth and development. 


Allie SkaggsUtilitySeniorLouisville, Ky.

Skaggs has left an unforgettable mark on the Arizona softball team. From clinching the Rawlings Gold Glove Award to claiming the prestigious title of Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, both in 2023, Skaggs epitomizes a standard of excellence. 

Skaggs brings with her an appetite for success, immediately making her presence felt through her remarkable defensive prowess and power hitting. In her junior season, she posted four grand slams and led the team with 14 home runs along with her perfect 1.000 fielding percentage

Skaggs is a linchpin in the team’s triumphs and her game is characterized by immaculate fielding and game-altering plays. As a senior, her dual role as an on-field performer and leader will continue to uplift the team. Skaggs is poised to guide Arizona through yet another season of high expectations.

Devyn NetzPitcher/InfieldSeniorSierra Madre, Calif.

Netz, a versatile senior, is an exceptional talent in both pitching and hitting. With an impressive 102 games under her belt, Netz‘s impact is felt on the mound and at the plate. 

Her pitching prowess shines through her 34 wins and 235 career strikeouts, while her consistent hitting and clutch runs underscore her all-around capabilities. In her junior year, she posted a 16-16 record but 135 strikeouts and a save. As a senior leader who has spent her entire collegiate career at Arizona, Netz‘s experience sets her up to guide the team on their bounceback season.

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