TUCSON, Arizona — Shaina Pellington executes a no-look screen and roll during practice, but everyone will be watching her and she likely takes the place of Aari McDonald in the Wildcat starting lineup.
McDonald was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Co-Defenesive Player of the year, and helped turn the Wildcats from a 6-24 team to a Final Four team in three years. Pellington isn't trying to fill her shoes.
"I'm not looking at it that way," said Pellington at Arizona Womens' Basketball media day. "I'm just trying to be the best that I can be to help the team the best way that I can."
"Shaina just has to be the best Shaina," said senior forward Sam Thomas. "Everyone is going to focus on who's going to be the new point guard, or who's going to be the new Aari. We're just going to be a new team now, without Aari."
Thomas was a freshman on that 2017-18 team that went 6-24. But this is a bigger, deeper, and more physical team, something Pellington personifies as she dribbles hard down the court.
"I'm just really quick with my speed," said Pellington. I try to use that to my advantage as best I can. And, my physicality allows me to be explosive, so that's always been a trademark of my game."
Pellington played for team Canada this past summer in the Tokyo Olympics. She won't be the only point guard this season for Adia Barnes' team.
"She's coachable," said Barnes. "She's more eager to learn. She wants to lead the point guard position. She wants to do well. I love that I see that. I think she's hungry."
We may have gotten a taste of how good Pellington can be. She scored 15 points to go with 7 rebounds and 3 steals in the national title game against Stanford.
"That's the way I normally play," said Pellington.