Iowa State Cyclones

Touted Iowa State women's basketball freshmen set to experience first Division I game

Cyclones host Omaha on Wednesday

Aubrey Joens (23) looks to pass under pressure during a Class 5A girls' state basketball tournament game last season. (R
Aubrey Joens (23) looks to pass under pressure during a Class 5A girls' state basketball tournament game last season. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

AMES — Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly has said all four freshmen from his highly-touted 2020 recruiting class will play this season.

The 2020 class — Lexi Donarski, Aubrey Joens, Emmily Ryan and Kylie Feuerbach — is the best group the 26-year head coach has ever brought to Ames.

On Wednesday, in Hilton Coliseum, the quartet will be able to show their abilities against Omaha (noon, ESPN+).

“They’re all going to play,” said Fennelly, who will miss the game while quarantining at home. “I don’t know where, when or how, but they’re all going to play. It’s going to be a big jump from where they were as high schoolers to where they need to be as Division I basketball players. And sometimes you have to learn that the hard way. That’s why it’s fortunate that they’re playing with people like Ashley (Joens), Kristin (Scott), Maddie (Wise), Rae (Johnson) and Maggie (Espenmiller-McGraw), who can guide them and teach them what it means to be at this level.

“That learning curve is so hard. It’s impossible to quantify to freshmen. They all came in ready in some regard but they’re completely not ready in others. That’s every freshman we’ve ever been around. But I think they’ll all do some really big things here.”

Ashley Joens spent her summer home in Iowa City preparing herself and also preparing her little sister Aubrey for the rigors of the college basketball season.

“To have her here and to play with her again is a lot of fun,” Ashley said. “We kind of have the connection from playing together before and especially practicing over quarantine. I could help her out at home to hopefully help make her transition a little easier.

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“When we were at home, we’d play one-on-one against each other and it got very competitive. Neither one of us wants to lose, so we just competed and battled against each other.”

Fennelly said the sisters have very different games. Ashley is a more physical player who can score at all three levels. Aubrey is a marksman from 3-point range, someone Fennelly called the best shooter he has ever recruited. Aubrey made 38 percent of her 3-point attempts last year at Iowa City High.

But they do have one similarity. Their competitiveness.

“They play the game with great passion and the Joens DNA is real and is a factor,” Fennelly said. “They want to win and they work hard at it.”

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