The Arizona women’s basketball team has been blessed with excellent point guards in the past few years. Names like Lisa Griffith, Brenda Pantoja and Dee-Dee Wheeler have combined to give the Cats a steady leader for their offense. Well, make way for a new leader. It’s out with old and in with the new!
Enter Malia O’Neal, a four-year letterwinner at Garfield High School in Seattle, Wash. This girl can be the best point guard that Arizona has ever had! Her credentials are impeccable. She was a four-time all-conference selection, three-time all-city star, first-team all-state, Washington State Player of the Year, and she was named to the USA Today Super 25. In short, she’s good. Very good.
This season, Malia is off to a late start. She was held out of action for the entire preseason, awaiting an NCAA ruling involving “home-school” credits. But now she is playing and she is showing signs of brilliance. Every now and then she will make a pass that makes you blink, make a drive inside the lane that tingles your spine and huddle-up her team and you think, “she’s the future of Arizona basketball!” Defensively, she seemingly has a hand on any in-bound pass and creates havoc wherever she is. Malia O’Neal is the real deal.
Next season, the Wildcats inherit the two tallest female twins in the world. The Bofia twins will offer Malia O’Neal a pair of wonderful targets with which to work her magic. Finally, the Cats will have a low-post presence that will allow this budding star do what she does best ?- get the ball in the hands of people who can score.
Until then, Malia O’Neal is worth the price of admission. She is still not in basketball shape and will make freshman mistakes but just watch for a pass here and a drive there. You will see what I see; the future is on the floor. Regardless of how this season turns out, the discovery of Malia O’Neal bodes well for the future of Arizona women’s basketball. Every time she touches the ball, a basketball fan can think, “It’s out with the old and in with the new!”
See you on the radio!
*Every Arizona women’s basketball game is broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM - The JOLT!
*Enjoy the Joan Bonvicini Coaches Show, beginning Monday, Jan. 9, from 6-7 p.m. You can hear her show each Monday night on the JOLT!