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2-time NAIA player of the year to join Iowa State's women's basketball program
6-foot-6 Stephanie Soares comes to Cyclones as a grad transfer
AMES — Iowa State’s women’s basketball team just got a lot bigger and better.
That’s because 6-6 two-time NAIA player of the year Stephanie Soares will join the Cyclones next season as a graduate transfer from The Master’s University.
“Her skill set’s very good,” ISU head coach Bill Fennelly said in a phone interview. “She can face up. Shoot it. Good around the basket. Has played internationally for Brazil. Had a great (NAIA) career. I think her versatility and length are things that we felt we really needed to try to add to what we had. Just a phenomenal kid.”
Soares averaged 20.5 points and 12.2 rebounds per game last season for the Mustangs. The Brazilian plans to continue playing internationally and maintains hopes of making her home country’s Olympic team.
“That is definitely a goal of hers,” Fennelly said. “Very similar to (former ISU star) Bridget (Carleton). Her goal was the Canadian national team. The Brazilian system’s a little different but she’s definitely in the mix with them.”
Soares's presence, Fennelly said, should help take some of the pressure off ISU’s all-time leading scorer, Ashley Joens, who has been blanketed by double teams much of her career.
“Every coach talks about spacing,” Fennelly said. “Stephanie will allow us to find a different way to space the floor and she gets to play with some really good guards. It’s a really good fit.”
Making players fit — sometimes for just one season — has become integral to the game as the transfer portal has widened and immediately eligible grad transfers dot the landscape.
Fennelly and his staff are adapting to that new reality and players such as Soares could help them thrive within it.
“It’s not obviously what all of us are used to (with) developing players and going through the system,” said Fennelly, whose team is coming off a Sweet 16 berth and will be ranked among or near the top five nationally next season. “Those days are over. You build your roster year to year and we thought our roster next year for sure, it needed some length and some skill at that position. We just feel really, really lucky that Steph was available and saw herself in an Iowa State uniform.”