Hannah Stuelke’s athleticism a boost for Iowa women’s basketball

Four years after she committed to the program, the freshman is making an immediate impact with the Hawkeyes.


Grace Smith

Iowa forward and freshman Hannah Stuelke poses for a portrait during Iowa Women’s Basketball Media Day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Stuelke was ranked No. 45 recruit nationally by ESPN in 2022. In High School, Stuelke was named Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball freshman Hannah Stuelke always knew she wanted to be a Hawkeye. She committed to Iowa during her freshman year at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids.

In her four years as an Iowa women’s basketball commit, she earned first-team all-conference and all-district honors four times. The 6-foot-2 forward was the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year and Miss Iowa Basketball during her senior season in 2021-22 and the 45th-ranked national recruit in the 2022 class.

Following a storied high school career, Stuelke finally made the short trip to Iowa City to start her journey as a Hawkeye women’s basketball player, and her teammates made sure she felt comfortable right away.

“I think they made it really easy just to come in here,” Stuelke said of her teammates helping her acclimate to Iowa City. “It’s just like another game. Just play hard, and you know what to do.”

Stuelke knew what university she was going to play at earlier than most recruits. Many student-athletes commit to a college during their sophomore or junior years of high school.

But her early decision and eventual familiarity with the program aided her transition from high school to college, head coach Lisa Bluder said. Stuelke frequented women’s basketball games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena throughout her four years of high school.

“I’m thrilled with Hannah,” Bluder said following Iowa’s game against Evansville on Nov. 10. “I’m so excited. She committed to us when she was a ninth grader, and we were thrilled then. We’ve built a relationship because she did commit so early that we’ve been able to. She’s been in this arena so many times. She’s no stranger to this place, and I think that has helped her adjustment.”

Stuelke’s versatility also helps the Hawkeyes. As a positionless player, Stuelke can effectively play the 3, 4, and 5. She played point guard and off-ball positions for her high school basketball team, but Bluder said she’s going to keep Hannah at power forward or center.

“That’s what we kind of look for when we’re recruiting, is those players that can play a multitude of positions,” Bluder said at Iowa Women’s Basketball Media Day on Oct. 20. “Hannah can certainly do that. She could play really for us the 3, 4, or 5. We’re going to kind of keep her at the 4 and 5 this year as a freshman because our transition offense is quite different between our 1, 2, 3s and our 4/5s.”

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Ahead of the season, Stuelke was in a three-way competition against sophomores Addison O’Grady and Sharon Goodman to be named starting center Monika Czinano’s backup.

While O’Grady earned the No. 2 center spot, Stuelke still makes her presence felt on the floor.

“She will definitely add to our rebounding, which we needed, and her ability to attack off the dribble is really good,” Bluder said. “Her ability to post-up is good, and her 3-point shot is looking a lot better, as well.”

Stuelke, a proficient 3-point shooter, has served as both a backup power forward and third-string center for Iowa this season.

Stuelke is one of eight players — and the only freshman — to appear in all seven of Iowa’s games so far this season. She averages 11 minutes per contest, recording 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.

“She doesn’t know how good she can be,” junior guard Caitlin Clark said. “Her potential is through the roof, and I think everybody on our team sees that — it’s just getting her to see it. And I think she’s starting to. I think she’s starting to realize how good she can be and how good she will be.

Stuelke’s athleticism can’t be understated — her teammates say they’ve been waiting for her to dunk in practice since she arrived at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I don’t think we’ve had a more athletic player on our team as long as I’ve been here,” Clark said. “She gives us something that we haven’t had, and we need to use it to the best of our ability.”