Adia Barnes joins USA Basketball staff for AmeriCup, says 'absolutely not' to coaching Arizona men's team

Cassandra Negley
·4-min read

Adia Barnes has a new gig and it isn't the open office next door at the Arizona basketball facilities. 

Barnes was officially named an assistant coach to Dawn Staley on the 2021 USA AmeriCup Team on Friday, a day after Staley made mention of it in a first-person piece at The Undefeated. The job title she won't take, though, is that of Arizona men's basketball coach after it was floated by podcasts hosts this week.  

Adia Barnes holds the regional final net.
Head coach Adia Barnes of the Arizona Wildcats is working with USA Basketball. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Barnes named to Team USA coaching staff

Barnes will join Staley and Jennifer Rizzotti on the AmeriCup team that will be made up of collegiate stars who are not yet named. The team trials will be April 18-21 at the University of South Carolina. 

"I am incredibly honored to represent the United States and assist coach Dawn Staley and USA Basketball for the 2021 AmeriCup," Barnes said in a release. "This has been a basketball dream of mine and I can't wait to represent my country. The opportunity to work alongside coach Staley and coach Rizzotti and the most talented basketball players in the world is an honor. I cannot wait to get in the gym with these athletes and represent USA Basketball with pride." 

Barnes is fresh off taking her alma mater to its first national championship game in program history, a coda on the most successful season in school history. The Wildcats had never made it past the Sweet 16 before this season. 

Staley wrote in The Undefeated she would give Barnes a part of her 2017 national championship net upon the coach's arrival in Columbia. It's becoming a budding tradition between Black women coaches who have taken their teams to the Final Four. They were the first two Black women as well as the first two former WNBA players to lead teams to the same Final Four. 

"Adia Barnes has quickly proven herself to be one of the top coaches in our country, and Jen brings a wealth of international experience to the staff," Staley said in a release. "I'm also excited to be able to work with a younger group of athletes this summer." 

The AmeriCup will take place June 11-19 in Puerto Rico with 10 nations from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. The top four teams will move on to compete in the 2022 FIBA World Cup Qualifying tournament. 

Barnes dismisses idea of taking men's coaching job 

From coaching skill to representation to pep talks not intended for the camera, Barnes was a breakout star of March Madness. Days after Arizona fell one point short of a national championship against Stanford, the school re-took headlines when it announced it was parting ways with men's basketball coach Sean Miller. 

During an appearance on "The Johnjay & Rich: After Words" podcast, Barnes was asked if she would consider coaching the Wildcats men's squad. 

“Absolutely not," she said, via "Zero interest. Guys don’t listen to crap, no. You tell a guy to go right, he going left three times. No, they don’t listen."

Barnes also referenced media coverage of her pumping breast milk during halftime of the national championship game. ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe reported it out of the break and her call of "let's normalize working mothers" resonated with women around the country and world. 

"I chose to have another kid," Barnes said on the podcast. "I didn’t choose to have her like right before a season, but it just worked out like that. But it's like you just do what you have to do, and I think it became big news during the tournament because I don't know how they found out… I was going to pump at halftime. I didn't tell anybody. I don't know how they found out. That became a big story, but I didn't say that, you know what I mean? I didn't say, ‘Oh, I was pumping.’”

Rowe knows the lesson here. Indeed, we should normalize working mothers and women multi-task daily to succeed at such high levels. Now Barnes will do it on the international level. 

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