Despite a three-game losing streak, the Cyclones are in the midst of a promising 14-3 season that should end in the NCAA tournament. The future looks just as bright, Bill Fennelly having signed a top 25 recruiting class this past fall, spearheaded by top 100 prospect Emily Durr out of Utica, New York.
Earlier this season, Durr broke the scoring record at Notre Dame High School, surpassing a mark of 1,937 points, set in the early 1980s.
EspnW had ranked the 5-foot-10 Durr as the No. 68 prospect in the country as she averaged 24.3 points and eight rebounds during her junior season. Most of her offers came from schools located in the northeast; Boston College, Syracuse, St. John's and Villanova among others, but it was the team in the Midwest that stood out above all.
"Iowa State was fantastic in their recruiting of Emily," Notre Dame HS coach Mike Plonisch told AllCyclones.com. "The first time I met coach Fennelly was at a sectional game out in Syracuse. He flew out just to attend this game. After our game our boys played and I found myself talking to him all four quarters of that game. It was just really great, and that's one of the reasons why Emily chose to play at Iowa State. It's a very close and family atmosphere. I was very impressed that coach Fennelly made a special trip this year to see Emily, even though she had already signed her letter of intent. He still took the time to come watch her play and spent time with her family. You just feel very comfortable around him and to be honest I think Emily is blessed to be able to go to a place like Iowa State with the coaching staff that they have."
Durr signed with the Cyclones on Nov. 13, along with four other class of 2014 players: Nakiah Bell, Blaire Thomas, Bryanna Fernstrom and Claire Ricketts.
Fernstrom is a 6-foot-5 center and Ricketts is a 6-foot-3 forward, while the first three players are guards.
"Em is the first player we have ever recruited from [New York]," Fennelly said in a Signing Day press release. "She has an old-school game with a variety of offensive skills. Em can play many positions and her versatility and ability to score in many ways will help us a great deal."
Since signing, Durr has kept up with the Cyclones via Twitter and Cyclones.tv.
"It feels really good to have my decision over with so I can concentrate on basketball," Durr said to AllCyclones.com. "I am really happy with my decision. I know it's far away but I felt an instant connection with the coaches and fell in love with the campus. And the distance doesn't make a difference anymore; with Cyclones.tv my parents can catch each game.
"The connection I had with the girls and the program as a whole made me comfortable enough in making a commitment. I love Coach Fennelly and the coaching staff. I know I can fit in there and run the offense they want to play."
Durr is clearly a fantastic scorer who can get to the rim at ease, but her court vision shouldn't go unmentioned.
A lot of scouts and other coaches had told me during the recruiting process how impressed they were with her ability to see the floor," Plonisch said. "She does really well in passing the ball in transition. In fact I'd say she is at her best when in transition because she makes good decisions. She's also been rebounding very well for us this season.
"Before she gets to campus, she will have to improve her footwork, foot speed and getting stronger defending those bigger players."