AMES, Iowa — Ashley Joens could be just the remedy Bill Fennelly needs for what ails his Iowa State women’s basketball team.
The Cyclones need scorers, if only to ease the load on senior star Bridget Carleton, and if Joens has shown anything in her career, it’s a knack for making baskets — from the perimeter, inside or on the move.
A 6-foot freshman, Joens scored 2,178 points in her career at Iowa City High. She averaged 30.7 points as a senior, when she was named the state’s player of the year, shot 59.5 percent from 3-point range and 62 percent overall.
Major college basketball is an entirely new game, of course. But Joens was a top 20 recruit nationally and few doubt her ability to make that transition.
It all starts here. 🌪🏀 pic.twitter.com/SNalKB8Yym
— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneWBB) September 28, 2018
“She hasn’t had to do it … with the lights on, but I don’t think it bothers her,” Fennelly said Monday at the team’s media day. “She played for USA Basketball this summer and the coaches on that team could not have been more complimentary on the way she played and what she did.”
Joens was the No. 2 scorer and top 3-point shooter on the USA U18 team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship.
At Iowa State, she’s part of the highest ranked recruiting class in Fennelly’s 24 seasons, a group that includes 6-foot Maddie Fredericks, the Ohio player of the year, and 6-3 Morgan Kane of Riverton, Utah. All three, along with sophomores Madison Wise and Kristin Scott, should be excellent complements to Carleton, who led the team in scoring, rebounding 3-pointers, steals and blocks last season, when the Cyclones went 14-17.
“Last year we had one (scorer) and maybe a half, depending on the day,” Fennelly said. “But Ashley will give us some points.”
So far, her potential for scoring is much stronger than it is for talking. She’s quiet, unassuming and spouts the usual line for someone who doesn’t want to make a big deal of herself.
“Just doing what I can to help the team win,” she said. “Whatever it is that game that we need.”
In many ways, she’s similar to Carleton because of her versatility. Along with her 3-point shooting, Joens can pass, post up or beat a defender off the dribble, which is what Carleton has been doing the past three years.
We’re bringing the 🔥 this year with ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/dOmcjLHChC
— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneWBB) September 6, 2018
“I’ve told Ashley just basically follow Bridget around,” Fennelly said. “See what Bridget does, act like Bridget acts, do those kind of things. And Ashley wants to be that kind of player. Maybe not as tall as Bridget, but very similar, someone that’s going to have a big role as a freshman, someone whose game will develop.”
Carleton sees the similarities, too, and will welcome any help Joens can offer.
“She’s really talented,” Carleton said. “She understands the game of basketball and she can score in a variety of ways. We’re really excited about her. She’ll help us a lot this year.”
While in high school, Joens played in some offseason tournaments in Ames and used those occasions to work out with Carleton at Iowa State’s practice facility. Those workouts showed just how much Carleton can do with a ball in her hands.
“Getting to know her and playing with her and knowing what she does, maybe I can do that next year,” she said. “I’d like to step into that role.”
Carleton recently returned to campus after playing for Canada in the World Cup tournament and Fennelly gave her a few days off. Monday was her first day of practice.
“I’m a lot better coach today than I was on Saturday,” he said with a smile.
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