Last season, the Iowa State women’s basketball team finished 20-11 (9-9) and was ranked as high as 11th in the nation. A team full of seasoned veterans such as all-american Hallie Christopherson, as well as two-year starter Nikki Moody and Brynn Williamson paved the way for a 14-0 start. But it was two freshmen who gave Cyclone fans a glimpse into the future.
Jadda Buckley was a top-50 player nationally in high school and didn’t disappoint during her first season at Iowa State starting 28 games, averaged 10.9 points, and led the Cyclones with 33 steals. Good enough to be named to the Big 12 All-Freshmen team.
Seanna Johnson was a three-time state champion in high school and twice named Minnesota Basketball Class 3A Player of the Year and a top-100 player nationally. Johnson started all 31 games last season averaging 10.2 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds per contest – good enough to also be named to the Big 12 All-Freshmen team.
“The thing I told them in their individual meetings is that you don’t want being named to the All-Big 12 freshmen team to be the highlight of your career,” said Fennelly during Women’s Basketball Media Day last Thursday.
“I’d like to see Jadda shoot more. She needs to be one of our leading scorers. I’m not positive, but I think Jadda was the only freshmen in the country last year who shot 40 percent from the three, 40 percent in field goal [percentage], and 80-percent from the free throw line.
“For Jadda, it’s consistency. She had twenty 9-point games and then the next night she’d get two.”
“Coach [Fennelly] is always on me about hunting my shot, so that is going to be a huge aspect for me to embrace this season,” said Buckley in an interview with Clones Confidential. “This offseason I worked on consistency, whether with my shot or dribbling. Rather than showing up big for one game and then not doing anything for the next five games, I want to be more consistent this season.”
Buckley was the only freshmen in the nation to shoot 40 percent from field, 40 percent from three, and connect on 87 percent from the free throw line. Her 43 percent from the field was second best on the team to 45 percent. Johnson was one of just 10 freshmen in the country to average 8.0 rebounds per game and recorded 4 double-doubles.
“Seanna needs to get healthy,” said Fennelly. “She got hurt while in Italy. We need her to be a little bit better away from the basket. She’s a slasher; she can get to the rim and rebound. But if she can add some sort of 3-point shot on a more consistent basis, it will make her much harder to guard.”
With a depleted front-court this season, returning only two players who averaged less than 7 percent of total minutes played last year, the backcourt will be relied upon to help carry the team while the Cyclones look to break in some inexperience freshmen into the lineup. No more true than senior captains Nikki Moody and Brynn Williamson. But as the team builds toward the future, one has to be excited about what Fennelly has coming back in Buckley and Johnson for the next two seasons.