Arizona's women's basketball team has a new coach, and it's a familiar name.
Adia Barnes was named the Wildcats' new head coach Monday, replacing Niya Butts. Barnes, who played at Arizona between 1994-98 and was the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer, had spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at Washington.
"Not only are we hiring an excellent basketball coach, who also excelled as a player, but we’re able to welcome one of Arizona’s all-time greats back to campus," UA athletic director Greg Byrne said in a news release.
Byrne had said he was waiting for a candidate to finish in postseason play before he made any announcement, and that proved true with the hiring of Barnes. The Huskies made a run to the Final Four before losing to Syracuse on Sunday.
The hiring of Barnes, 39, ends a search that lasted about a month after the Wildcats announced that Butts would not be returning as coach. Butts coached UA for eight seasons and never made the NCAA Tournament, only once making it into postseason play with an NIT berth in 2011.
Barnes becomes the fourth UA graduate to be a head coach on campus. The others: Vicky Maes (women's tennis), Laura Iannello (women's golf) and Rick DeMont (swimming). Her salary terms are unclear: Butts made $210,000 per year as part of a contract extension signed following the 2010-11 season; Butts deal is set to expire in June.
The Huskies made the postseason every year with Barnes on staff, including two NCAA Tournament bids. Barnes said in a statement that she believes the Wildcats "can compete for championships in the Pac-12 and nationally and I can’t wait to return to Tucson and get started" and called the team's facilities "some of the best facilities in women's basketball."
Barnes scored 2,237 points for the UA and was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1998. She was also an All-American in 1998.
Barnes also played seven seasons in the WNBA, and won a WNBA title with the Seattle Storm in 2004.
“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to be the next head coach at my alma mater,” she said.