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Iowa women's basketball: Hawkeyes lean on out-of-state talent for 2021 class

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

Although there was no riveting, late get like the 2020 class, Iowa's latest recruiting haul still features several high-end prospects. 

It was a follow-the-script signing day for Hawkeyes women's basketball, which officially inked 2021 recruits A.J. Ediger, Sydney Affolter and Addison O'Grady on Wednesday. Ediger had been committed the longest  — since June 2019 — while Affolter and O'Grady both hopped on board near the beginning of 2020. EspnW ranks Iowa's 2021 class 20th. 

Last year's Iowa signing day was spent reveling in the glory of securing Caitlin Clark, the nation's No. 4 overall recruit who committed two days before the 2020 class was announced. The 2021 trio also features some top-100 love, as Ediger sits 39th and O'Grady 92nd in the latest espnW 2021 recruiting rankings. The only Big Ten program with more prospects on the list is Northwestern. 

“These three women will make great Hawkeyes in every realm — athletically, academically and socially,”  Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said.

This is Iowa's first class to have all out-of-state prospects in it since 2015. The Hawkeyes plucked Ediger from Michigan, Affolter from outside Chicago and O'Grady from Colorado.        

With Ediger, Iowa gets a 6-foot-2 forward who held several other Power Five offers. After leading Hamilton High School to a 25-1 record and earning Associated Press second-team all-state honors as a sophomore, Ediger didn't let up as a junior. She averaged 22 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in guiding Hamilton to its fifth consecutive district title, then a spot in the regional semifinals before coronavirus halted play. Ediger has also reached 1,000 career points before her final high school run. 

Affolter hasn't called the state of Iowa home yet either, but the 5-foot-11 wing from Marist High School is certainly familiar with the state's premier women's basketball product. That's because she competes with the All-Iowa Attack on the AAU circuit, featuring some of the toughest prep players Iowa has to offer.    

Success with the Attack led to an impressive offer list, including DePaul, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Northwestern, Minnesota, Xavier, Marquette, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Texas Tech, Washington State and Arizona State. But, Afflolter didn't want to get too far away from home. Iowa was the perfect balance of proximity and basketball prowess. 

Signing Day:Iowa State women ink three, including Tennessee star born in Iowa

With O'Grady, Iowa ventured out to a recruiting ground rarely used. The 6-foot-3 post hails from roughly 25 miles outside of Denver and opted for a Midwest trek, given how strong Iowa's reputation is for developing quality centers. 

O'Grady is no stranger to high-end competition, either. She competed in the USA Trials last May, as well as the 2018 Nike Nationals and the 2017 Nike Tournament of Champions. All three performances earned strong reviews.   

“This makes back-to-back top-20 ranked recruiting classes, and that bodes very well for the future of Iowa basketball,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said in a release. “These three women will make great Hawkeyes in every realm — athletically, academically and socially.”

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.