Things look bright in Cyclone country. Unlike previous years, the sisters don't have a singular player returning that the team will focus around. When Carleton was set to graduate we had a young Joens on the team as heir apparent. This year we don't. That doesn't mean the cupboard is bare, but quite the opposite. We have three all conference players in Fritz, Ryan and Donarski returning. The later two I'm sure determined to show better than they did this year. The former is a light just beginning to show her brightness. We have gained experience for players like Zingaro and Diew. So, we have a solid core to build around. Losing Vick is a small dent as we really didn't know what she brought to the table.
The recruits are another top ten class that includes:
Jalynn Bristow – Forward, 6-2 from Texas. She was the Miss Texas player of the year, averaged 25.8 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 1.6 blocks per game and led her team to a state title.
Addy Brown – Point Guard, 6-3 from Kansas. She is a high school All American and the Kansas Gatorade POY. She averaged 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game and was a two time 1st team Class 6A All State player. Very cerebral and an on floor leader/coach.
Audi Crooks – Center, 6-3 from Iowa. Many of us had the chance to watch her perform in the State tournament this year. She dominated in 1A and had 49 points and 16 boards in the final. But its what she did in AAU that caught the coaches' eyes. She is a big body with great hands. Prior to the state tourney she had scored 2659 points and had 1313 rebounds.
Arianna Jackson – Guard, 5-9 from Iowa. Averaged nearly 20 ppg, shot 46% overall and 43% from three. 84% free throw shooter as a senior. Scored over 1000 career points. Quick!
Kelsey Joens – Guard, 5-10 from Iowa. The next Joens. Like each of her sisters before her she is her own style of player. Finished with 1,647 career points. Two time first team 5A pick. She and Crooks are both IPSWA first-team picks. This year she averaged 24.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.0 steals playing for her sister.
Folks...there is a reason this class is ranked so highly. There is some serious talent entering the women's program that will both support and add to the existing talent. It's hard to say who will fill in the roles of departing players, but the added depth will be welcome. I expect Brown and Bristow to be immediate impact players, i.e. getting significant play time. Crooks has some development to do, but we will see her on the court as well. Jackson and Joens are wild cards. Both obviously have skills. We can hope that in year one they provide some rotation time for the guard court. The one I'm most excited about? Again a toss up between Bristow and Brown. Brown is a BIG point guard. Even if she moves to forward, it means she can move with and without the ball. Bristow is just a pure talent.
It's a good time to be a Twister Sister fan. There is a changing of the guard, but what I feel is most promising for next year is NOT having the one player everything rotates around. I much more like to think of the possibility of next year's team being a multi-headed beast that can strike inside and out and from multiple spots. The team is taking a Europe trip this summer that I'm sure will help gain some experience and sort things out. Personally, I'm just as excited for next year as I was this year...especially since there won't be any lofty expectations. Hang on....