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Incoming Iowa freshmen excel in Game Time League

[ 0 ] July 2, 2014 |

They come from three states and from two countries.

They come with sparkling credentials, including two having been named the Gatorade Player of the Year in their respective state.

And they come at a time when the Iowa women’s basketball program is thriving under veteran coach Lisa Bluder.

Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class, which consists of four players, is another reason to be optimistic with the Hawkeyes coming off a 27-9 season.

It’s also a reason to attend the Game Time League because three of the four incoming recruits are competing in the league, which plays its games on Wednesdays at the North Liberty Community Center.

Forward Chase Coley, a 6-foot-4 Minneapolis native, helped her squad defeat a team Wednesday that featured fellow Hawkeye recruit Whitney Jennings, a 5-5 point guard from Logansport, Ind.

Carly Mohns, a 6-1 forward from Brodhead, Wis., also is playing in the Game Time League this summer.

The only incoming recruit not playing in the GTL this summer is 6-0 forward Christina Buttenham, who is from Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada.

“I thought it would be a little more relaxed,” Coley said of the GTL. “I didn’t know that it would be this serious. It’s cool how people come out to support everyone.”

The four incoming recruits will join an Iowa squad that only loses one starter from last season in departed senior Theairra Taylor, a 5-7 wing player. Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class is considered one of the best in the Big Ten.

“I think we’re going to do really well at backing the team up this year and just helping the girls get better,” said Coley, who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Minnesota after averaging 24 points, 18 rebounds and nearly 10 blocks per game as a senior. “I think it’s going to be a real fun year.”

Jennings also was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in her home state. She led the state of Indiana in scoring this past season with a 32.0 per-game average. She also averaged 8.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 5.1 steals this season for a team that finished 24-3.

“We’re, obviously, joining an already great team us four recruits,” Jennings said. “So I want to be able to do whatever I can to help the team.”

Jennings finished her career with 2,641 points, the fifth highest total in state history. She recorded three triple-doubles and was a 2014 McDonald’s All-American selection committee nominee.

Jennings expects her role to change as a college point guard. Iowa already has one of the Big Ten’s top point guards in senior-to-be Samantha Logic.

“Obviously, I know that scoring is not going to be my role as much in college,” Jennings said. “I’ll be more of a true point guard. But I’m really looking forward to learning a lot from Sam this year and just getting better.”

Sophomore-to-be Ally Disterhoft, a 2013 graduate of West High, is impressed by what she’s seen from the three incoming freshmen so far this summer.

“I think they’re going to be a tremendous help,” said the 6-0 Disterhoft, who made the Big Ten all-Freshmen team last season. “I think we have a lot to be excited about this season.

“Obviously, losing Theairra is a big blow. But we have a lot of players coming back and we also have some talent coming in. During the summer we’re just working on jelling together as a team.”

Coley’s versatility stood out in high school and now it’s doing the same in the GTL, where she blocked at least five shots in the first half of Wednesday’s game.

Coley owns Minnesota prep records for blocks in a game, season and career. She ranks among the top three in state history for single-season and career rebounds.

But she’s also comfortable playing on the perimeter and shooting from 3-point range despite her size.

“I was very surprised going in that Chase was launching those 3s,” Disterhoft said. “But she can hit them. So, hey, if you’re open and have that range, go ahead.”

Coley described herself as a late bloomer. She was a guard before growing into a frontline player.

“I grew late in life, so my dad had me as a guard when I was younger,” Coley said. “And as I grew, I kept those guard skills. But I also had to transition into a post position as well. And on my high school team I was forced to do a lot of everything.”

Jennings compensates for her lack of size with her quickness and ball handling. She also excels at attacking the basket, especially in transition.

“She’s aggressive to the rim and she has some crazy quickness to her,” Disterhoft said of Jennings. “And her ball handling is pretty incredible.”

As for Mohns, she also showed her versatility in Wednesday’s GTL game by scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. Most of her assists were on baskets by Iowa shooting guard Melissa Dixon, who scored 63 points in Wednesday’s GTL game.

“I’m pretty excited to see what everybody can do,” said Mohns, who averaged 17.7 points and 10.1 rebounds as a high school senior. “We’re all pretty talented. So I’m just excited to see what’s going to happen.”

Buttenham won gold at the Canada Games as a member of the U17 Team Ontario squad, and was selected to the all-star team at the 2013 USJN/Nike 17U National Championships held in Washington, D.C. As a sophomore, Buttenham was the youngest member of the Canadian National U-17 Women’s Basketball Team, which won a bronze medal at the FIBA World Cadette championship in the Netherlands.

“I think they all have bright futures and they’re all going to really help our program,” Disterhoft said of the four incoming recruits.

Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or pharty@press-citizen.com.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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