Arizona Women’s Basketball: Greg Byrne decides on Adia Barnes as new head coach


Greg Byrne’s had a tough choice to make to replace his Arizona Women’s Basketball coach Niya Butts, he hired proven college Pac-12 assistant coach and former Arizona Wildcats player Adia Barnes.

Greg Byrne did his due diligence on deciding who would succeed Niya Butts as his new Head Women’s Basketball coach. He had a list of notables including current three-time WNBA champion assistant coach

Byrne had a list of notables to choose from and was looking for a seasoned college coach who understood what it takes to get to the highest level of the NCAA ranks, so he chose former Wildcat Adia Barnes.

Although we all have to give her enough time to recruit and establish her program first, Adia (pronounced A-dee-a) Barnes will be working on returning to the final four and pulling out a championship with her Arizona Wildcats. She has just helped coach the Washington Huskies women’s basketball team to the Final Four in the semi-finals of the 2016 Women’s NCAA Tournament where her team lost to the Syracuse Orange (who then succumbed to the unstoppable UCONN Huskies in the finals).

Byrne reached deep into the programs history for his candidate as Barnes is the Arizona’s all-time leading scorer.

“We believe Adia’s combination of experience and energy, said Byrne, “Along with her understanding of this athletics department, made her the perfect fit to lead our women’s basketball program into its next phase.”

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Adia was recruited by famed Arizona Wildcats head coach Joan Bonvicini as a post player, even though she stood only 5’11. Barnes not only played at Arizona, she was signed by the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs (now defunct) after college, then played for the Houston Comets, Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx over seven seasons.  She would eventually switch to the guard position in the WNBA.

Barnes returned to the Storm as a sports broadcaster and TV analyst where she remained for several years until Washington came calling. It was at the Storm she met McCall Hall, a former member of the Huskies basketball program and current sports broadcaster, who met Barnes when she was playing with the Storm.

“Adia Barnes is going to be a great next chapter for Arizona women’s basketball and the Pac-12,” said Hall, “She’s worked extremely hard building a brand of excellence with her love for the game of basketball at the core. There aren’t many coaches out there who have such a grasp of the game, proven experience, charisma, and magnetism like Adia,”

We asked Hall why she is going to be good for the University of Arizona, “She’s got the knack for connecting with players and that’s key the future and legacy of a program,” she boasted, “She’s the ultimate players coach, and cooler than the other side of the pillow. It’s a good day for Arizona women’s hoops.”

Barnes eventually took the Assistant Coaching job at the University of Washington in 2011 where she has coached until this week. She is looking forward to returning to her Alma Mater, “I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to be the next head coach at my alma mater, I’m looking forward to working with the young women in Arizona’s basketball program as well as the wonderful people in McKale.”

A wife and mother, along with her experience as a player in the Pac-10 and professionally, Barnes seems to be a great fit for the program.

Here is the KGUN news report:

Coach Butts did not honor the Arizona Women’s basketball Alumni during her tenure, neither did she bring them back like the Men’s program does. We heard they haven’t been too happy about that, so let’s hope the Barnes, an alumni herself, capitalizes on the schools successful alumni to restore the legacy Bonavinci and others previously established.

More wildcats: Arizona Basketball: Cats Legends Chasing History

It can only go up from here, so ZonaZealots welcomes Coach Barnes and wishes her tons of success and happiness in her new role, we cannot wait to cheer on her Cats.