City High junior Ashley JoensBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Over the past two seasons Ashley Joens has grown comfortable being the center of attention on the basketball court.
The City High junior has been the focus of opposing game plans, dealing with double teams and extra defenders while averaging 19 points in consecutive all-state seasons.
Following a summer that saw her rapidly rise up national recruiting rankings Joens has become the focus of attention off the court as well.
The ESPNW Hoopgurlz rankings tabbed Joens as the 16th best prospect in the country in the Class of 2018.
Her strong summer and high ranking have made the soft-spoken Joens one of the most sought after prospects in the Midwest.
“It’s just kind of crazy with everything, it gets a little overwhelming,” Joens said of the attention from coaches. “I just kind of try to process it all right now. I’m just trying to take it all in.”
Hoopgurlz ranks the 5-foot-9 Joens as one of 17 five-star prospects in the Class of 2018.
City High junior Ashley Joens.
Joens is ranked the fifth best guard in the 2018 class in the ESPN rankings prepared by Dan Olson the Owner of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
“She is skilled, she is consistent, she has good size in the back court, makes good decisions with the ball and she just knows how to play,” Olson said. “There are so many kids out there in this world today that are playing basketball that aren’t fundamentally skilled in any way comparative to this kid.”
Back-to-back all-state seasons in which she averaged 18.7 and 19.3 points per game helped Joens earn scholarship offers from Illinois and Drake.
While playing with the All Iowa Attack this summer Joens began to see recruiting pick up.
When the NCAA open recruiting period began in September the text messages, phones calls and scholarship offers began to pour in.
Joens says she now holds more than 15 scholarship offers from the likes of Iowa State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and DePaul.
“When all the coaches could start calling me I started getting texts and calls every day,” Joens said. “I had about 20 coaches contacting me that day.”
Stanford is among the list of heavy hitters to come to City High to take a look at Joens.
Stanford came to our school and talked to me and talked to my guidance counselor,” Joens said. “That was kind of crazy.”
Joens described the past several weeks as chaotic.
The chaotic stretch included what Joens called a surprise ranking from ESPN.
“I was hoping to be ranked but I had no idea it was going to be that high,” Joens said. “It was kind of surprising.”
Neither the recruiting rankings nor the attention from major college programs for Joens has come as a surprise to City High coach Bill McTaggart.
McTaggart saw Joens rank third in Class 5A in scoring last season while averaging 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game last year as a sophomore.
“Being around Ashley, it’s not a surprise to me at all,” McTaggart said. “She has been a dominant player since junior high so I’m not one bit surprised.”
Olson described Joens’ ascent on the national stage to that of another Iowa City product, University of Iowa senior Ally Disterhoft.
“This kid has really moved up the charts a little bit and did really well,” Olson said. “The same kind of things kind of happened to Ally Disterhoft, she kind of came out of nowhere in the later part of her summer season and really impressed me.”
With still a pair of high school seasons in front of her Joens is in no hurry to make a decision on her future.
Her older sister Courtney is a freshman at Illinois but Joens said that hasn’t played a role in her selecting a college.
“I don’t really know but a lot of coaches have been asking me that,” Joens said when asked about her time table for a decision. “I’m just kind of going with it and seeing where it goes. I’m going to start trying to narrow down my choices after the September period when all the coaches can contact you.”