ISU women’s basketball crosses border for talent


Lani Tons/Iowa State Daily

Bridget Carleton, freshman guard, passes opponents on the court at the second exhibition game Nov. 8.

Trey Alessio

ISU women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly said the 2016-17 class may be the most unique group of recruits he has seen in his time at Iowa State.

The Cyclones announced the signings of Adriana Camber and Aliyah Konate on Wednesday, both of whom are from Europe. 

Camber is a 5-foot-9 forward from Lund, Sweden. She played on the Nordic Championship national team in 2013 and 2014 and was named an all-star. Camber was also named an all-star three times in the Swedish Championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014. She was rated as a five-star prospect by Blue Star Europe after sitting out her junior season with an ACL injury.

The second recruit, Konate, is a 6-foot-4 forward from Berlin, Germany. She played on Germany’s 3-on-3 national youth team in the Youth Olympic Games in 2014. Konate was also the first woman named to the ALBA Berlin national team in 2013.

“[Konate] is strong and physical. She’d walk in here and you’d be like, ‘That looks like a Big 12 post player,’” Fennelly said. “[Camber] is very skilled on the perimeter. She’s long, she’s athletic, she can guard people. I think it fits what this team needed in the short term.”

Fennelly said Iowa State has become a world-class institution and as such went out into the world at large, looking for players internationally.

Canadian freshman Bridget Carleton came into Iowa State’s program with early success in the first couple of exhibition games.

She led the Cyclones in their first exhibition win against Midwestern State with 19 points and added one assist as well as one steal. Fennelly said she has come into this year with a lot of hype.

Carleton may have opened up the doors more for Iowa State’s recent international recruiting platform.

“Is this an accident? We end up with a kid from Canada one year, and then Germany and Sweden,” Fennelly said. “We’ve become the United Nations.”

Fennelly added, however, that dipping into Europe and other international recruiting spots will not be the norm for Iowa State.

Iowa State tried recruiting a couple of athletes from Minnesota and Iowa, but it didn’t work out. Fennelly said the team searched in California and a few other places to find recruits, but it wasn’t going the way he wanted it to go.

So the Cyclones went the international route.

“In basketball now, the way that’s not normal that’s become normal is transfers and international students,” Fennelly said. “We thought we’d try it, and we’ll see how it works out.”

Iowa State will also add a new player from the Southeastern Conference next year. Heather Bowe, who played at Vanderbilt, will be at Iowa State this semester, but will sit out in the spring. She will start practice, though, and should play for the Cyclones next season.

Fennelly said Bowe might have the earliest impact on the team.

The integration from a European style of play to an American style may be tough for international players, but Fennelly said it’s not as hard as most people think.

“Basketball is basketball,” Fennelly said. “If you’re big and strong and can go underneath the basket and rebound and hit people, you can do that in any language.”

Carleton thinks Iowa State has an international platform with the announcement of these new recruits.

“With me coming here and then the two recruits now, I feel like we are starting to get more international,” Carleton said. “People are starting to know about Iowa State all over the world.”