Lessons in Perseverance

Tom Danehy, Jacob Chinn photo

The first impression that Wildcat basketball player and senior leader LaBrittney Jones had of the University of Arizona will also be her most enduring memory. 

“I remember this incredible sense of community,” she recalls of her recruiting trip to Tucson. “Everybody wore (UA gear) and you’d go the stores and everybody sold Wildcat stuff. It’s like everybody was involved. It was great.”

Like most Division 1 student-athletes, Jones came from a winning high school program. Despite the senior forward’s best efforts, and those of her teammates and coaches, she has not been able to enjoy similar success at Arizona. In each of her first three years under former head coach Niya Butts, the team would start off relatively well and then struggle in conference play. 

This year, under new coach Adia Barnes ’98, the ’Cats started off spectacularly, winning eight of their first nine games and 10 of 12 nonconference games overall. A tough conference schedule still loomed, but there were definite signs of progress. The ’Cats played opponents with grit, including an eight-point loss to a top-ranked Oregon State team.

Jones sees real improvement in the program and thinks  the ’Cats will make the NCAA Tournament in the next year or two. “This program is heading up,” she says.

Even though her win-loss record includes more losses than wins, she views things positively. “Losing is not fun, but you can learn a lot about perseverance. If you can fight through it and keep on working as hard as ever, it makes you a better athlete and a 
better person.”

Jones plans to play professional basketball after graduating from the Eller College of Management in May and then pursue a career in sports management. “I’ll come back and root for Coach Barnes’ teams. I’ll always be 
a Wildcat.”