Sherwood's Ava Heiden makes her college choice
Sherwood basketball player Ava Heiden made her college choice official this past weekend, announcing via Twitter that she has committed to attend and play basketball for the University of Iowa.
The Bowmen junior, who was voted the Pacific Conference Player of the Year and led Sherwood to a league title last season, said she felt confident she'd be a Hawkeye shortly following her trip to Iowa City this past August, but she delayed a decision until completing all of her prospective visits. With those visits now in the books, the 6-foot-4 post made her intentions — confidently — known.
"I knew that I wanted to commit to the University of Iowa the moment I left campus after my visit," Heiden said. "Iowa was a perfect fit for me, but I still had other visits scheduled later in the year. I wanted to visit them all to make sure that Iowa was still number one — which it was by far — and I didn't want to have any 'what if' schools that I didn't explore fully."
Heiden is the 42nd-ranked player in the 2024 class and is a four-star recruit, according to ESPN's HoopGurlz rankings.
The standout said it wasn't any one thing in particular that pushed her in Iowa's direction, but rather the sum of a slew of parts that made it a perfect fit.
"The amazing people at Iowa (coaches, players and just the people in Iowa City), the strong academics, the impressive basketball program, Coach J (Jan Jensen) being an amazing post developer, the distance from home, and just the 'fit' of the University of Iowa," Heiden said. "Iowa went above and beyond in all of those categories."
Shortly after Heiden made her intentions to attend Iowa known, associate head coach Jensen — who primarily works with post players — held nothing back regarding his excitement for Heiden's commitment, posting the following to Twitter.
"How's everybody doin' on this fine Sunday?" Jensen tweeted. "Well, we're doing great here. I mean, we're having a great day ... a really great day! The future looks bright!!!! Let's goooo, Hawks!!!"
Prior to her commitment, Heiden took visits to the University of Portland and Gonzaga, along with the University of Utah.
The big and athletic post also has ties to the Big 10, with both of parents having been athletes at the University of Michigan.
While Heiden does her share of scoring on the court, her attitude for the game is refreshing in an era that revolves primarily around points. In an interview with Pamplin Media this past spring, she stated that she believes adaptability is where the true value of a player lies.
"I believe personally that playing unselfish basketball is more important than scoring 20 points every game," Heiden said. "Every player needs to be good at locking down on defense or transition offense. Those are the little things that separate you from other players. I think being a versatile player is really important."
It's that understanding and unselfishness that Sherwood head coach Lauren Howard believes differentiates her from many of her peers.
"She is a fantastic teammate that makes everyone around her a better player," Howard said. "She understands the game at such a high level but is humble enough to share the ball and give her teammates a ton of opportunities."
Now, with her recruitment and subsequent commitment behind her, Heiden said she's looking forward to giving her full attention to school and the Bowmen team she hopes to lead to great things on the court.
"I am so excited that I finally committed," she said. "Though fun, it was a lot of work to keep up with my recruitment process, school, and basketball. I am relieved that I am finally done because now I can focus solely on my academics, basketball, and preparing for the U of I."
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