Hawkeyes land top 2016 recruit, C.R. forward Ollinger
The way Amanda Ollinger explains it, Iowa women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder was hoping to get a visit from the Cedar Rapids Jefferson junior this month.
Bluder and her staff got a lot more than that from Ollinger on Wednesday.
Ollinger, rated the 30th-best prospect in the 2016 class by ESPN, gave a verbal commit to Bluder and the Hawkeyes on Wednesday, becoming the third member of what has become an impressive 2016 recruiting class for Iowa.
"I was originally going to go down there and watch a practice and she asked if I was still interested in coming down and I just said, 'I'm interested in coming down for the next four years,' " Ollinger explained. "After that, she was just ecstatic. All the coaches were in the room with her, so she was telling them and it was just an unbelievable moment. I'll never forget it."
An all-state pick and highly-sought-after recruit in both volleyball and basketball, Ollinger had a long list of suitors in both sports.
Ollinger eventually choose basketball over volleyball and selected Bluder's Hawkeyes from a list that included power programs such as Stanford, Louisville, Oklahoma and Florida.
In the end, the lure of playing close to home won out for the 6-foot-2 forward.
"Lisa Bluder is just an amazing person and an amazing coach," Ollinger said. "The whole coaching staff is fantastic. It was really important for me to stay close to home, close to my family and close to my parents, especially. So that was the big tipping point, is that I could have anything that I ever wanted at Iowa."
Ollinger averaged 7.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game as a freshman at Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
Last season, she established herself as one of the top players not only in Iowa but the nation.
Ollinger averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 blocks last season while helping Jefferson to a 9-13 record, and began gaining recruiting interest from some of the nation's top programs.
ESPN's HoopGurlz ranks Ollinger as the 30th-best player and sixth-best forward in the Class of 2016.
Ollinger is equally as accomplished on the volleyball court, where she was second in the state last year as a sophomore with 654 kills.
She currently ranks third in Iowa in kills per set at 5.11, but over the last month determined her future was on the basketball court.
"It was hard picking what sport to do because I love them both so much," Ollinger said. "I'm really sad that I won't be playing volleyball in college but I'm super, super excited to be playing basketball."
Ollinger is the third known verbal commitment for the 2016 class, joining Mason City guard Makenzie Meyer and Goodrich, Mich., guard Alexis Sevillian.
Sevillian, a 5-6 guard, committed to the Hawkeyes early this month, while Meyer pledged to the Hawkeyes last September.
Iowa is coming off a season in which it tied for the second-most wins in program history, going 27-9 and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Hawkeyes have reached the NCAA Tournament a Big Ten-best seven consecutive times.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Lisa and her staff will do an amazing job the next couple of years and even after I'm gone," Ollinger said. "I'm very confident in her and I have the utmost respect for her. She just does an amazing job."
Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.