Skip to main content

The 2020-21 Arizona high school basketball season is finally underway. Here are some players and teams to watch in 4A girls basketball.

See our 6A team previews here

Players to watch

G/F Amanda Barcello, sr., Seton Catholic

The 6-0 BYU signee uses her length well, as reflected by her twice being named conference defensive player of the year. A two-time all-conference first-team selection, she shot 61 percent from the field last season while averaging 9.8 points, a team-high 8.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. 

F Alyssa Brown, sr., Sahuaro

The superlatives for the UNLV signee run long — Gatorade Player of the Year, All-Arizona Player of the Year, MaxPreps Player of the Year and 26th on the state’s all-time scoring list with 2,094 points. The pandemic probably means Julie Brase’s all-time record of 2,913 points is out of reach, but the 6-1 forward could become the sixth girl in state history to reach 2,500 points. As a junior, she averaged 31.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.9 steals in leading the Cougars to a 28-2 record and their first appearance in a state final since 2001. 

G Sasha Daniel, jr., Seton Catholic

The second-team all-conference shooting guard averaged 10.6 points per game and added 3.2 steals and three assists to help the Sentinels win their sixth state championship in the past nine seasons.

F/G Alaya Fitzgerald, sr., Mesquite

The Desert Sky player of the year and first-team all-conference selection led the Wildcats to the quarterfinals last season, averaging 18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game while shooting 46 percent from the field. She signed with Portland State in November.

G Alyssa Franke, sr., Sahauro

The first-team all-region point guard proved a worthy second option in the Cougars’ attack beside Brown. She’s a 1,000-point scorer in her own right who averaged 12.3 points, three assists and 2.3 steals per game last season.

W Kennedy Harper, sr., Estrella Foothills

Harper helped lead the Wolves to a third consecutive appearance in the state tournament last winter, averaging 8.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals in earning second-team all-conference honors. 

G Lexi McNabb, jr., Seton Catholic

The first-team all-conference point guard led the state champion Sentinels in scoring at 10.9 points per game last season. She added 2.9 assists and 1.9 steals. 

W Jaya Nelson, sr., Salpointe Catholic

One of the state’s most underrated players, the Lancers’ top scorer a season ago at 14.3 points per game is headed to Division II Alderson Broaddus University. The first-team all-region pick added 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.7 assists. 

W Gracelyn Nez, jr., Flagstaff

The second-team all-conference selection filled up the box score for the Eagles last season, shooting 41 percent from three-point range while averaging 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and two steals per game. 

F Alivia Pautz, sr., Notre Dame Prep

She averaged a double-double (16.4 points, 10.3 rebounds) while earning second-team all-conference honors in 5A for the Saints last season. The Black Hills State signee also blocked 3.3 shots per game. “Alivia is a versatile guard/forward that has great length impacting the game on both ends of the floor,” said Black Hills State coach Mark Nore.

G Tianna Reeder, jr., Estrella Foothills 

The Southeast Region co-defensive player of the year and a second-team all-conference selection, Reeder averaged 10.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a sophomore.

Teams to watch

Estrella Foothills

With two all-conference candidates in Harper and Reeder surrounded by supporting talent such as senior post Samantha Stockton (6.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game last season) and senior guard Olivia Niedzwecki (6.5 points, 3.8 assists, three steals), the Wolves have a good chance of advancing past the first round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Greenway

The Demons entered last year’s playoffs as the No. 4 seed just two years removed from a four-win season but lost to Rio Rico in the first round. They return three key rotation players, including senior guard Deziree Borrego (six points, 2.9 rebounds), as they seek their first state tournament win since 2008. 

Sahuaro

Any team with the dynamic duo of Alyssa Brown and Alyssa Franke will be one to watch, even if the Cougars were to go 0-for-the-season. Of course, that’s not going to happen, with the two Alyssas joined by senior wing Lily Watson (7.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.5 steals).

Seton Catholic

The Sentinels lost second-team all-conference junior LeeLee Willis to AZ Compass Prep, but with four key players back from last season’s state champion — including Dartmouth-bound senior forward Bella DiGiovanni (8.7 points, 3.6 rebounds) — they are still the overwhelming favorite in pursuit of their 12th state title. 

Shadow Mountain

The champions two years ago and a semifinalist last season, the Matadors graduated nine players from last season’s team and saw head coach Erica Farnsworth head to Pinnacle. New coach James Singleton is confident he can build upon Farnsworth’s foundation, with all-region senior wing Zhane Jordan (11.2 points, seven rebounds, 2.5 steals) and senior Lourdes Kinnard (three points, 3.4 rebounds) leading the way.

MORE BASKETBALL COVERAGE