Royston: The tides are shifting for Iowa State women’s basketball


Daniel Jacobi II

Morgan Kane attempts a layup during the game against TCU in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 25, 2023.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor

Morgan Kane entered the transfer portal Thursday afternoon.

Just like that, another part of Iowa State’s success over the last few seasons is gone. 

With Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw and Maggie Vick entering the transfer portal earlier in the week, a total of three players are now looking to finish out their collegiate careers in a new place. The new wave of Iowa State women’s basketball is starting to roll in.

At the start of the season the Cyclones starting lineup looked like this: Ashley Joens, Lexi Donarski, Emily Ryan, Denae Fritz and Stephanie Soares.

Now there won’t be Joens and Soares. Soares requested the NCAA to grant her one more year of eligibility due to her injury, but her appeal was denied.

Kane was also a key piece of the lineup in Iowa State’s Sweet 16 season a year ago.

This season, Kane was a starter, alongside Nyamer Diew, after Soares’ season-ending injury. The loss of Kane will be felt, and to me, it felt a little confusing. 

With one year of eligibility left, it was almost a sure thing that Kane would finish out her career as a Cyclone. Now, the team has another hole to fill in the offseason.

This will be the first year in a long time where Joens isn’t taking a commanding lead on the offensive end of the floor. Now it’s up to Donarski and Ryan to step up.

Of course, Fritz turned on the jets later in the season, so there is a good chance she could take Joens’ spot in the “Big Three.” 

This offseason as a whole is turning out to be vastly different than last offseason. The only change going into the year was exchanging Aubrey Joens for Soares.

Now the Cyclones are welcoming five incoming freshmen in what has turned out to be the best recruiting class in Cyclone history. They are adding more size with Addy Brown, Jalynn Bristow and Audi Crooks, all rating in or around the top 50 in the nation.

The Cyclones are also adding another dynamic playmaker alongside Brown in Kelsey Joens. When one Joens sister leaves, another enters, and Kelsey Joens has the potential to be the best Joens sister yet. That’s saying a lot considering Ashley Joens was a historically great player.

The last player coming in – Arianna Jackson – brings versatility to the three-point game, shooting 64 percent from three in her sophomore year of high school.

The only freshman that came in at the start of the most recent season was Shantavia Dawkins, so the addition of five new highly-touted players will be game changing.

Although there’s a lot of talent leaving, there’s arguably more talent coming in. The transfer season just started and already the Cyclones are looking a lot different than the past.

There’s almost no way to say how good the Cyclones will be going forward, but if everything pans out as it’s expected to, the future will be bright.

The Cyclones had back-to-back historic seasons, as the four-loss Sweet 16 season was followed immediately by a Big 12 title. Now it’s up to the future Cyclones to keep the consistent success rolling.

It’s clear that the tides are shifting, and I think we could be in for the best Iowa State team yet.