116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Sports / Iowa Hawkeyes / Iowa Basketball
Hannah Stuelke has given Iowa women’s basketball ‘what we haven’t had’ amid year of growth
Stuelke usually smiling as she acclimates to college basketball
IOWA CITY — Hannah Stuelke still is acclimating to the spotlight, literally and figuratively.
The TV cameras with LED lights crowded the Iowa forward in a room adjacent to Iowa’s women’s basketball locker room Thursday, making for a literal spotlight.
“I get a little nervous when I’m talking in front of cameras, especially like this,” Stuelke said as part of Iowa’s pre-NCAA tournament media availability.
Figuratively, Stuelke has been in the spotlight, too, as the one freshman frequently in the rotation on a veteran-laden team.
The former Cedar Rapids Washington standout — and Miss Iowa Basketball 2022 — was named the 2023 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year.
She is fifth on the Hawkeyes in scoring with 6.8 points per game despite averaging only 13.2 minutes per game.
“She’s given us what we haven’t had,” associate head coach Jan Jensen said. “She gives us a bounce. She gives us a rebounding presence. She gives us some speed running down the floor.”
The 2022-23 season has been a year of growth for Stuelke, which she quickly will attribute to others.
“The girls are really amazing,” Stuelke said. “They’ve taught me a lot of things about myself and about the game.”
Head coach Lisa Bluder has particularly seen Stuelke grow in her maturity.
“Going from, ‘am I supposed to be here?’ to, ‘yes, I'm supposed to be here,’ to, ‘yes, I'm an impact player,’” Bluder said. “That's been her evolution over the year.”
Jensen, meanwhile, noticed Stuelke’s confidence and “ability to bounce back” and improve.
Stuelke and Jensen both pointed to the winter break as a turning point for the freshman forward.
“After winter break, I started to cool down and really settle into my role on the team,” Stuelke said.
That was when Jensen noticed Stuelke “let her shoulders down” and “started to go with her natural capabilities.”
Stuelke had the benefit of playing at least 10 minutes in each of Iowa’s first four games.
“That was invaluable because we knew we needed her down the stretch,” Jensen said. “And then it started to feel a lot more comfortable when we really needed to have her (in Big Ten play).”
As Stuelke has grown this year, she has usually had a smile on her face.
“When she goes down and has a layup, she just smiles,” Jensen said. “When she gets a monster board, she turns up and smiles. … That kid has a lot of joy in her.”
Raygun has sold “Happy like Hannah” T-shirts, with Stuelke receiving a portion of sales via name, image and likeness.
A fan sent Raygun the shirt idea via Twitter, and the Des Moines-based apparel company then reached out to Stuelke about the NIL deal.
“I love the support,” Stuelke said. “It just brings me joy.”
Looking ahead, Stuelke wants to expand her range after this season. She has shot 46 percent from the free-throw line and is 1-of-6 from long range this season.
“From the free-throw line, from the 3-point line, pretty much from everywhere,” Stuelke said. “That’s what I’ll be working on all summer.”
Stuelke also likely will benefit from more time with Jensen, the post guru who helped Monika Czinano, former Naismith Player of the Year Megan Gustafson and others.
“When we have a chance to really work on some of her back to the back stuff, she'll become even more of a threat down there,” Jensen said.
Jensen does not like to make long-term projections for players, but she has plenty of optimism about Stuelke’s future.
“I anticipate her to continue growing and really becoming a dominant, dominant force,” Jensen said. “She is going to grow into one heck of a versatile player.”