City High's Ashley Joens commits to Iowa State
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Ashley Joens wanted it wrapped up before the opening tip. No calls. No texts. No distractions.
After months of constant contact and sales pitches from a bevy of college coaches, Joens finally brought the speculation to a close. The City High guard, ranked as ESPN’s No. 16 overall prospect for the 2018 class, announced her Iowa State commitment via Twitter late Sunday night, just hours after the Cyclones pulled out a comeback win over in-state foe Drake.
The 5-foot-11 junior is Iowa State’s first 2018 commit, ranking as a five-star, 96 overall on ESPN.
“I wanted to get it done before the season started,” Joens said Monday, “so there wouldn’t be a bunch of phone calls and stuff while I was trying to play.
“I wanted to stay close to home, and I narrowed it down that way. I was mostly looking at Big Ten and Big 12 schools.”
Joens has dominated since arriving on the prep scene. She earned first-team all-state honors in each of her two high school seasons and has become one of the state’s most prolific scorers, cracking 5A’s top-10 in scoring both years.
Joens averaged 19.3 points and 8.9 rebounds last season — good for third and sixth respectively in 5A — helping the Little Hawks to a 19-4 record and a regional final appearance. She averaged 18.7 points per game — seventh best in 5A — as a freshman.
“I’ve noticed in the past from athletes that I’ve had that once they decide, then a lot of stress is relieved,” Little Hawks coach Bill McTaggart said. “They play better and can concentrate on basketball. I think a big weight came off her shoulders (Sunday) when she decided to go to Iowa State, and I think her basketball play will be even better.”
After securing offers from Illinois, Drake and Wisconsin early in her sophomore season, Joens saw her recruiting amp up even more this past summer while playing for the All Iowa Attack, a program that owns a laundry list of Division I alumni. Joens eventually racked up more than a dozen scholarship offers from a number of Power Five schools, including Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, DePaul and more.
The Cyclones, though, claimed the ultimate prize.
Joens said Iowa State offered in early August, and after visiting Ames and a number of other schools, she solidified her decision “a couple weeks before” attending Sunday’s game. The in-state showdown — Iowa State pulled out a 75-67 win over the Bulldogs after trailing by double digits in the first half — only strengthened the verdict.
“I kind of already knew going in (to Sunday’s unofficial visit),” Joens said, “and then their environment for the game was really good — great fans, and a really exciting atmosphere. And the coaches and the players, I really liked them. And their style of play fit my style of play.”
Even so, Joens admitted she caught the Cyclone coaching staff off-guard.
“They were surprised,” she said. “They didn’t think I was going to commit that early. They were excited.”
Already decked out in Iowa State apparel Monday afternoon, Joens smiled when discussing the Little Hawks’ upcoming season — now just a week away. She’ll remain the primary concern on countless scouting reports and will be the anchor of a City team that could feature multiple freshmen in its starting lineup.
But that’s just fine. With her collegiate path now cemented, the focus is simple.
“I feel like I can just play now,” Joens said, “and not have to worry about everything.”
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting and Iowa athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.