The Arizona State women's basketball team got a boost to its backcourt Friday when guards Tenaya Watson and Sabrina McKinney signed national letters of intent to play for the Sun Devils.
ASU will be without Briann January (WNBA) and Dymond Simon (knee injury) next season, so the signings help fortify that position.
Watson, a 5-foot-9 guard from Long Beach, Calif., played last season at Central Arizona College, where she led the Vaqueras to a 35-0 season and the NJCAA championship. She averaged 13.8 points, 5.4 assists (13th in the nation) and 3.9 steals (fourth in the nation) per game. She also finished the season ranked ninth in the nation in field goal percentage (.607). Watson was named the MVP of the NJCAA Tournament after averaging 16.8 points in the Vaqueras’ four tournament games. In the NJCAA championship game she scored a career-best 30 points and grabbed six rebounds to help Central Arizona defeat Missouri Jefferson College 78-71.
As a freshman in 2008, Watson was named a NJCAA Division I first-team All-American after averaging 16.6 points and finishing first in the nation in field goal percentage (.646), second in assists (8.4 apg) and 11th in steals (3.8 spg).
"Tenaya Watson will be a major impact player for us,” said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne. “She was arguably the best junior college guard in the country at the end of the 2008-09 season. She can play all three guard positions and is a strong, savvy, hardworking player.
"She is both a scorer and distributor as well as a tenacious defender and dominant rebounder. ... Tenaya's smile and her game are going to light up Wells Fargo Arena for the next two years."
McKinney is a two-time District 4-5A Defensive Player of the Year from from Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. She finished her career No. 2 all-time in Bowie annals in both assists (455) and steals (289) and No. 7 in scoring (823 points). In addition, she is also the school’s single-season record holder in assists (185).
"Sabrina McKinney is a tough and very skilled point guard who has led her team on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor,” Turner Thorne said. “While she is an adept scorer and stand-out defender, I am especially impressed with her precision passing."
McKinney and Watson will be joining a Sun Devil squad that is coming off its second Elite Eight appearance in the last three seasons and has qualified for the NCAA Tournament five years in a row. Watson will be joined by her Central Arizona teammate Markisha Patterson, who signed a national letter of intent with the Sun Devils last November.