Claire Ricketts returns to court for women’s basketball team

Freshman forward Claire Ricketts fights towards the basket through a crowd of William Penn defenders in Hilton Coliseum last season. Iowa State defeated William Penn 99-53 on Nov. 11, 2014 in their first preseason exhibition game.

Trey Alessio

One of the biggest headlines from the ISU women’s basketball media day last Thursday was the freshmen coming in and how much of an impact each one of them will have on the court this upcoming season.

One non-traditional freshman the team hopes will make a big impact is forward Claire Ricketts. Ricketts, a redshirt freshman, played in only three games last year before suffering a season-ending wrist injury.

In those three games, Ricketts scored seven points and shot 75 percent from the field. She also snagged four rebounds and tallied one block. After showing promise last year, a lot of hype surrounds Ricketts entering the 2015 season.

“[Ricketts] is someone that plays very, very hard,” said ISU women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly. “Our fans are going to enjoy her.”

Fennelly said Ricketts’ skill set may not be where it needs to be quite yet because she was late to the party when it came to basketball. She didn’t pick up the sport until she was a freshman in high school.

That progress was hampered further by her injury. Last year, Ricketts suffered a wrist injury against USC Upstate.

“[Ricketts] didn’t just miss playing last year,” Fennelly said. “She really suffered by not being able to practice, and I just think she needs some work.”

But it’s clear that Ricketts has a lot of potential. She finished her career as the all-time leading rebounder with 807 boards at John Paul II High School in Plano, Texas. She was also the second-leading scorer in the high school’s history with 1207 points.

During Ricketts’ high school career, she led her team to four straight 5A Final Fours and a state championship her junior season, when she earned first-team All-District honors.

Fennelly even compared Ricketts to former ISU forward Chelsea Poppens.

“She came here undersized — maybe not ready for the primetime, but she’ll run, she’ll rebound, she’ll do the dirty work that you need to do,” Fennelly said. “Hopefully between [Ricketts] and [Bryanna Fernstrom] and [Meredith Burkhall], we have three different interior players that can mix and match.”

Ricketts said she is ready to go to. She doesn’t have any issues with her wrist and she has been practicing with no restrictions.

“Obviously, I missed not just the games, but the practice time,” Ricketts said. “I’m just getting in there and getting drills down. This year, it’s just me working hard, playing hard, getting every rebound, going after every loose ball — just trying to contribute as much as I can.”

After being in a cast for about three months with the inability to do any outside basketball work except for bike and elliptical training, Ricketts is back to full strength and excited about the upcoming basketball season.

“I’m just excited for our chemistry,” Ricketts said. “I think, as a team, in the offseason we’ve come together and we’re really getting along. Everybody is always happy to be with each other. We’re always cracking jokes with each other, so I think it’s really exciting to see how this team chemistry is going to come out.

“With how practice has gone along, I think it’s going to be awesome. It’s all working.”