116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The first few weeks of practice at the college level certainly haven’t worn out Hannah Stuelke.
“After every practice, she kind of jumps and grabs the rim and pulls it down,” Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder said of the Cedar Rapids Washington grad. “It’s kind of fun to see.”
Stuelke has been quickly adjusting as an incoming freshman on an experienced 2022-23 Iowa women’s basketball team.
“The first two weeks were pretty hard,” Stuelke said Friday. “It was a lot all at once, but everyone was great at helping us get settled in and ready.”
Off the court, going to college just a half-hour drive on Interstate 380 away from her hometown has its perks as well.
“I got sick two weeks ago,” Stuelke said. “My mom was here right away. It was amazing.”
Stuelke has already left quite the impression on her teammates and coaches.
“She brings an athleticism kind of side that we don’t really necessarily have at times,” star guard Caitlin Clark said. “She can still score the ball at a very high rate, but I think there’s a lot of little things that she can do that’ll be a matchup problem for the other team.”
Bluder also sees plenty of potential in the 2022 Miss Iowa Basketball winner and Gazette Athlete of the Year finalist.
“She’s going to be a terrific player,” Bluder said. “Watch out because she has so much athleticism. She’s so capable.”
How Stuelke fits in as a freshman with a deep frontcourt — five players on the 2022-23 roster are 6-foot-2 or taller — remains to be seen.
“It’s going to be interesting to see her freshman year,” Bluder said. “I don’t know how that’s going to pan out with learning the system and having everybody returning, but her future is incredibly bright.”
At the same time, Bluder made it clear that the Hawkeyes “need to be a better rebounding team” and said Stuelke “can really help us” with that.
The combination of Stuelke’s quickness and her height at 6-foot-2 also gives Bluder some options on how to use her on the floor.
“Right now we’re focusing on having her on the perimeter, but I think she could be unbelievable inside,” Bluder said.
In the portion of practice open to media Friday, Stuelke was working on transition offense with veterans like Clark and Kate Martin.
Fans will have to wait another three-plus months to see how often she’ll be on the floor with them during the season. Until then, her post-practice rim jumps might be a sign that she’s ready for a tougher challenge.
“At the end of a two-hour workout, she still has her legs behind her like that,” Bluder said. “Maybe I need to make her work harder.”
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