Arizona's Cheshi Poston, right, is back on the court after missing much of last season with academic issues. "It was embarrassing," she said.


The Arizona Wildcats' season was spiraling about of control, and there was nothing Cheshi Poston could do to help.

While her teammates were on their way to a 3-15 conference season with an undermanned nine-person squad, an embarrassed Poston was holed up in her apartment.

She wasn't allowed to be around the team - the only reason she came from Illinois to Tucson.

A junior college transfer, Poston was declared academically ineligible midway through the 2011-2012 season after posting a 1.0 GPA.

"It was embarrassing on my part and kind of sad watching my team," Poston said. "I had to get my grades together or I was going back to Chicago."

Without basketball, Poston, a 6-foot-2-inch power forward, was just a "regular, boring student" hoping she would get one more chance on the basketball court. She cut out distractions, got serious about academics and even got a mini-dachshund puppy - named Walnut - to give her something in her life to be responsible for.

Poston rebounded her second semester, posting a 2.5 GPA, and was allowed to rejoin the team in the summer. She has played in all 19 games this season and has started all eight conference games. The senior will play tonight, when Arizona (11-8, 3-5) takes on Washington at McKale Center.

Here's how Poston, 21, found her way back:

1. She found motivation. Poston says she receives motivation from doubters. Last year, after she was booted from the team, there were plenty of them.

"When people don't think I'm going to make it, it just pushes me harder so I can prove them wrong," she said.

Wildcats assistant coach Brandy Manning knew how Poston's brain worked, and he used to prod her any chance he got.

"Sometimes I'd see Coach Manning, and he would say, 'People don't think you're going to do it. You know that, right?'" Poston said. "I loved hearing that."

She also had incentive from back home in Chicago to work hard. When Poston was forced to call her dad, Norris, and tell him she had been suspended and might have to leave Tucson, he shot back with a one-line response: "Well, you're not coming back here."

"He told me that I had to do what I had to do to stay here, and that I wasn't coming back home," Poston said.

2. She adjusted. Poston was originally supposed to get to Tucson in the summer of 2011 to begin working out with her new teammates and adjust to college life.

Instead, she had to stay at her junior college in Carbondale, Ill., to retake a class before she had her full credits for the UA.

"When I got here, I didn't know where any of my classes were," Poston said. "Practices were hard, I was sleeping in class, I don't know what was going on.

"I look back now, and I don't know what I was thinking. I wasn't there."

She got used to Tucson and comfortable with being on campus. She developed routines and designated time to study.

3. She got the trust back. Head coach Niya Butts and the coaching staff were eager for Poston to return - not only because of her talent, but because they liked her as a person and wanted her to be a Wildcat.

The coaches wanted to see an attitude change. They wanted to see that she was willing to work hard on and off the court to regain the respect of her teammates.

"She had to regain my trust," Butts said. "By being consistent, especially with academics and by following through and by showing some responsibility. There were several disciplinary things that she had to do, and she did them.

"When you do that, you slowly, step-by-step, earn that trust back."

Butts said the trust isn't all back - yet - but the senior is making progress. Poston is closer to becoming the aggressive rebounder and physical presence that Arizona needs.

"She's come a long way," Butts said. "The change in terms of attitude toward what has to be done academically and socially has been night and day.

"She's still got a ways to go, but she's working."


• What: Washington at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m.

• Radio: 1400-AM

The Poston File

• Name: Cheshi Poston

• From: Chicago (she went to famed Simeon High School)

• Stats: 6.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg

• Best game: 14 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks against Cal State-Bakersfield on Nov. 9.

• Fun fact: Her mom, Sharon, played women's basketball and ran track at the University of Illinois-Chicago.