Meet the 'New Fab Five'
A New Fab Five is coming to Des Moines next season. On National Signing Day, Drake inked five high school standouts for the 2021-22 season.
National Signing Day is annual celebration for student-athletes who have worked tirelessly to put themselves in a position to play the sport they love for a program that see's their potential both on-and-off the floor. And this group certainly flashes potential.
It's time to meet the 'New Fab Five'!
Katie Dinnebier - Waukee, IA
"Katie is so tough. She has a high basketball IQ and is a true floor general. She is a proven winner and success always tends to find her." - Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk
Tough. Intelligent. Leader. Winner.
It's easy to see why Drake's coaching staff is excited to keep Katie Dinnebier close to home.
"I think one of things you got to love about Katie, is that she's a fighter," said Associate Head Coach Allison Pohlman on the Be Blue Podcast. "She's feisty. When you step on the floor with her, you want to be on her team."
It's easy to find Katie Dinnebier when watching her highlights, because she is everywhere. Let's begin on defense, where Dinnebier spearheaded Waukee's aggressive press scheme. Dinnebier led Class 5A in steals last season by averaging 4.2 per contest (108 total). Once the ball travels to half court, chances are, Katie Dinnebier will be eagerly waiting to make a play.
"She's going to, defensively, eat your lunch," said Pohlman.
As a floor general, Dinnebier shows great patience and vision when distributing the rock. Last season at Waukee, she averaged 4.0 assists per game. Dinnebier showed off her passing skills and more this summer.
Offensively, Dinnebier can score in a variety of ways. From the clip above, it's clear that Dinnebier does not shy away from contact when driving to the basket. She led Waukee in free throw's made and attempted last season. She's also lethal from beyond the arc, making 64 three-pointers at 41.8 percent as a junior.
Katie Dinnebier is now focused on her final season of prep hoops. Dinnebier and Waukee are poised for another big season after finishing runner-up in Class 5A last year.
In Katie Dinnebier, Drake gets their point guard of the future. A player that will set the tone on offense and defense, and will be a leader the moment she steps on campus. Katie Dinnebier is the true definition of a Drake Bulldog.
Ashley Iiams - Ames, IA
"Ashley is an all-around, versatile player. She is a skilled shooter and has an innate ability to see the floor. She has an incredible love for the game and passion to work hard." - Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk
Ashley Iiams is like a Swiss Army knife.
At 6'1", she can attack the basket by posting up or by cutting through the lane. If a defender loses sight of the Ames native on the outside, there's a good chance she'll let it fly, and connect. Iiams is confident in transition as both a scorer and a facilitator. She also uses her incredible athleticism and frame to grab rebounds, block shots and tip passes. Most importantly, Iiams wants to make her teammates better.
Iiams stuffed the stat sheet last season for the Little Cyclones, averaging 13.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest. Possessing an unlimited range, Iiams knocked down 53 three-pointers at a 34 percent clip. In addition, the forward shot 36 percent from the floor and over 82 percent from the free throw line during her junior campaign.
Iiams announced her verbal commitment to Drake in May, and became the first player to say "yes" to the Bulldogs via Zoom.
"I think she (Iiams) is just sneaky," said Associate Head Coach Allison Pohlman on the Be Blue Podcast. "We see an amazing amount of potential with her."
Another huge plus is her knowledge of the game. "Just getting the opportunity to listen to her talk specifically about the game and how she sees it," said Pohlman. "She knows what she's doing. She has a really high basketball IQ."
A multi-sport athlete in Ames, Iiams was also a member of the Little Cyclones' swim team that won the State Swimming and Diving meet earlier in November.
Iiams will now shift her focus on her final season of prep basketball, which is scheduled to begin on November 24. This will also be the final season that Iiams and fellow senior, Caroline Waite, will share the floor sporting the same uniform. Waite will play collegiately at Bradley University next year.
In Ashley Iiams, Drake adds an intriguing talent that will provide more than just versatility. As coach Baranczyk noted, she'll also bring a deep passion and love of the game and will spread that all across the program.
Anna Miller - Rochester, MN
"Anna has great size and the ability to run the floor really well. She is a difference maker on the defensive end and has a knack for rebounding. She is a lifelong learner that will continue to grow every day that she is here." - Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk
Anna Miller will lift Drake to new heights, both figuratively and literally.
The 6'3" forward from Rochester, MN committed to Drake earlier this summer.
"She's (Miller) extremely athletic, she has fantastic hands and foot work," said Associate Head Coach Allison Pohlman on the Be Blue Podcast. "I associate Anna's game and work ethic with Rachael Hackbarth (played at Drake from 2008-12)."
Hackbarth was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2012, and was also an Honorable Mention AP All-American in the same season. She finished her illustrious Drake career with 1,661 points, 953 rebounds and 107 blocks. Not a bad comparison.
As a junior, Miller averaged a double-double (17.0 PPG & 10.0 RPG), to go along with 2.9 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.7 steals per contest. A unique talent without question.
A multi-sport athlete at Rochester Mayo High School (also plays volleyball), one of the most impressive abilities of Miller is her endurance and speed on the court. She attacks defenses in the post with great instincts, and even more scary, is her ability to slash through the lane off the dribble. The Minnesotan does not live on the low block either, as she is a proven threat from the perimeter.
"She is such a learner and a student of the game," said Pohlman. "She wants to be good. She is very driven both academically and at basketball."
Miller told the Post Bulletin in Rochester that she intends to be a pre-med major while at Drake, and her dream is to become a doctor.
In Anna Miller, Drake adds a versatile forward with a very high ceiling. She has a clear passion for basketball and academics. It's no wonder why Drake was the ideal fit for the Rochester native.
Hannah Nilges - Jefferson City, MO
"Hannah is another tough guard that plays with so much passion. She can shoot the basketball and has the ability to put her teammates in incredible positions. Hannah just embodies the culture of this program in all she does." - Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk
Drake didn't find Hannah Nilges. Hannah Nilges found Drake.
"I'm really spiritual and I prayed and God opened up that door to me," said Nilges in an interview with the News Tribune in Jefferson City. "The coaches and the players, it felt like home the minute I stepped on campus."
The 5'7" shooting guard from Missouri's capital city verbally committed to the Bulldogs in the summer of 2018, shortly after spending a few days at a Drake women's basketball camp in Des Moines.
"Hannah has a knack for really making everyone around her better," said Associate Head Coach Allison Pohlman on the Be Blue Podcast. "Whether that's on the floor, off the floor. She's always supportive and has great things to say."
The moment Hannah Nilges steps on the floor, defenders better be ready to guard her. As a junior at Jefferson City High School, Nilges averaged 11.2 points per game. And as evidenced in this video, the shooting guard can drain it from anywhere on the court.
"The kid can just flat out shoot it," said Pohlman. "(We just love) her ability to just let it fly and knock it down."
Another area of Nilges' game that will be an asset right away, is her vision and passing.
Nilges averaged 2.7 assists per contest as a junior for the Lady Jays, a program known for its ball movement and playing inside-and-outside (similar to Drake). An underrated aspect of Nilges' game is her overall versatility. A shooting guard that isn't afraid to put the ball on the floor and distribute the basketball at the right moment. But during heat check time, that's when Nilges is at her best.
Nilges will now focus on her senior season, that looks to be very promising for JCHS. The Lady Jays finished second at the Missouri Class 5A State Tournament a year ago.
In Hannah Nilges, Drake adds a special player that will love being a Bulldog every single day. She can ball, motivate those around her and will no doubt elevate the fun-loving culture of Drake Women's Basketball.
Maggie Phipps - Ankeny, IA
"Maggie is a relentless worker that just wants to get better every day. She is a versatile scorer that has incredible range. She has been 'all in' since the day she said yes to Drake." - Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk
You can't have Drake Women's Basketball without a redhead. It's just a fact.
And needless to say, the Bulldogs have a pretty decent track record with redheads. Maggie Phipps will be no exception.
The 5'11" guard can flat out score. Phipps led North Polk High School in scoring (16.1 PPG) and three-pointers (67) last season. An efficient shooter, she shot over 44 percent from the floor, including over 36 percent from downtown. For smaller guards, Phipps is a matchup nightmare, using her frame to create off the dribble in space or driving to the basket. In the event she's left open outside, Phipps doesn't hesitate.
Don't sleep on the guard's ability to create for her teammates, especially in transition. Just take a look at some of these no-look passes.
Throughout her high school career, Phipps has shined on the biggest of stages. Some of her best performances have come at the Iowa High School Girls State Basketball Tournament. Helping guide North Polk High School to a runner-up finish in Class 3A this past season, Phipps averaged 16.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game at state. Her 11 made three's were the most in Class 3A in the tournament, including a 5-of-5 outing in the quarterfinal round.
"She has ice in her veins," said Associate Head Coach Allison Pohlman on the Be Blue Podcast. "In big moments, she will definitely step up and take the shot. She just has an edge about her game."
Similar to Hannah Nilges, Maggie Phipps knew from the start that Drake was home. She verbally committed to the Bulldogs back in 2018.
Phipps felt a strong connection with the program at an early age, and that connection has only grown larger over time. She idolized Caitlin Ingle, a local standout from Southeast Polk High School, who would go on to shatter Drake's and the Missouri Valley Conference's assists record.
After spending the last three season's at North Polk, Phipps will make the jump to Class 5A and play her final season of prep basketball at Ankeny Centennial High School under well-known coach Scott DeJong. Phipps' will now get the opportunity to square-off against Katie Dinnebier and Ashley Iiams before becoming teammates at Drake.
In Maggie Phipps, Drake adds a local standout that brings an edge and a scoring repertoire that will make her a threat on day one. And most importantly, a player that is, and always will be, 'all in' at Drake.