Cyclone women’s hoops takes a hit

Iowa State’s women’s basketball team took a big blow Monday with the news that freshmen Ashley Arlen and Alexis Yackley are leaving the team.

Arlen’s decision is the most impactful, and truth be told, odd.

This has all the indications of a blindside.  

The 6-1 forward played in 34 games last season and averaged 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds. With the graduations of post players Nicky Wieben, Amanda Nisleit, Jocelyn Anderson and Toccara Ross, Arlen would have played an important role next season with ISU coming off an Elite Eight run in the NCAA Tournament.

A talented freshman class is on the way, with 6-6 center Anna Prins, 6-2 Amanda Zimmerman and 6-1 Chelsea Poppens coming in, but Arlen was the only forward remaining with significant experience and had the inside track to a starting spot.

Six-foot junior Genesis Lightbourne is the only other returning frontcourt player.

Here’s what Arlen said Monday, through an athletic department press release:

“I’ve met some great people and have learned a lot in the last year, but I don’t think this is the right fit for me at this time. I have not made any future plans at this point. I want to thank coach (Bill) Fennelly and the coaching staff for giving me the chance to play basketball at Iowa State. I will never forget my teammates and the memories we made last season.”

The Cascade native has some skills and seemingly had a promising future. Is she leaving ISU and the Big 12 to earn more playing time at a lower-level Division I school?

Does she miss playing basketball in eastern Iowa?

Would any of us be surprised if she ended up a Hawkeye?

Yackley, who hails from Onida, S.D., averaged two points and shot 28.6 percent from the field in 25 games last season. It would have been nice to see her progress next season and beyond, but Yackley’s absence won’t stunt the Cyclones’ growth too badly. 

That’s three members of ISU’s class of 2008 class gone after last week’s news that guard Claire Rockall was returning to Ireland to continue her basketball career.

Fennelly now has three scholarships available for next season. Will he fill any of them?

Stay tuned.

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