The 2020 recruiting class was always going to be a special one for Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly, but on Wednesday it became official.
Three 4-star’s and a 5-star will be on their way to Ames next summer to get ready for the 2020-21 season.
It’s the highest-rated recruiting class that Iowa State women’s basketball has ever signed.
“It was a group of [players] that we identified very early,” Fennelly said. “We started recruiting them early. They fit exactly what we needed and what this program’s about on and off the court. We really emphasized this year on adding perimeter depth and versatility of skills. All of them fit that.”
The class, made up of Lexi Donarski, Aubrey Joens, Emily Ryan, and, Kylie Freuebach, is currently ranked seventh in the nation on prospectsnation.com.
ESPN will not reveal its class rankings until the end of the week, but Iowa State is one of six schools with three or more players rated in their top 100.
“For whatever that’s worth, I think that’s exciting,” Fennelly said. “That’s fun. It’s something to talk about, and it’s rightfully so. They’re all good players. They’ve established themselves. They deserve this ranking and this attention they’ve got.”
The class is headlined by Donarski, who committed to Iowa State when she was 14 years old and in eighth grade.
“When she came to camp, at that point [when she was in eighth grade], you could just tell that she was someone that had a skillset,” Fennelly said. “She was raised by a family that was very driven. She’s got a gym in her house.”
Donarski helps Iowa State keep a streak dating back to 2017 of signing at least one five-star recruit (ESPN) in each recruiting class.
Fennelly thought that offering her a scholarship early would pay dividends in the future.
“For some kids, the goal is to get a scholarship,” Fennelly said. “For the special ones, that’s the start of the process and I think for her, that started her on this journey where she now is regarded as one of the best high school players in the country.”
Another commit to the class is no stranger to sophomore Ashley Joens, one of the Cyclones’ past five-star recruits.
Joens’ sister, Aubrey, will follow in Ashley’s footsteps and play at Iowa State.
“She knew she wanted to play somewhere where she would fit in with the team,” Ashley said. “Just playing with me before and the [opportunity] to play together again I think helped her a lot.”
Part of what made recruiting a second player from the same family work was that the sister’s play two different styles of basketball.
Ashley said that she is more of a driver or a slasher while Aubrey – who averaged 23.0 points per game during her junior year – is more of a shooter.
“They’re completely different players,” Fennelly said. “They’re completely different people. When you watch Ash grow up you remember watching Aubrey too. I think it was just one of those things that her skillset fits the way we play.”
Aubrey played against Kylie Feuerbach over the summer, where Ashley got to know her better.
Feuerbach, along with the three others in her class look to give the Cyclones a boost.
“This is a great class coming in,” Ashley said. “I’ve known Kylie because she played with Aubrey this summer. I didn’t know [Donarski] or [Ryan] that much, but I know they’re great players that will impact the team.”
After all, it’s looking like the team will have a top 10 class.
Once each of the players’ national letters of intent came in on Wednesday, Fennelly texted them a message.
“I texted and called all four of them the instant we got the letter,” Fennelly said. “[I told them], ‘Well, the challenge now is to be rated seventh when you graduate – not when you just commit.”
2020 Iowa State WBB Recruiting Class
Aquinas HS (Wisconsin)
ESPN: 5-Star, No. 12 overall
Prospects Nation: 5-star, No. 17 overall
City HS (Iowa)
ESPN: 4-Star, No. 54 overall
Prospects Nation: 4-Star, No. 65 overall
Claflin HS (Kansas)
ESPN: 4-Star, No. 76 overall
Prospects Nation: 4-Star, No. 64 overall
Sycamore HS (Illinois)
ESPN: 4-Star, No. 77 overall
Prospects Nation: 4-Star, No. 53 overall