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Photo by Iowa State University Athletic Communications: Bishop Garrigan star Audi Crooks will play basketball at Iowa State University.

ALGONA – When it came time to decide where its next chapter would begin, the decision was simple for Audi Crooks.

Iowa State’s top recruit for the Class of 2023 and a National Top 60 prospect will take his talents to Iowa State University.

Junior star Bishop Garrigan felt at home in Ames from his first visit. Ultimately, that sense of family solidified his relationship with head coach Bill Fennelly’s program.

“The Iowa State players were welcoming,” Crooks said. “I have built relationships with players in my class (2023) who have already signed up.

“I will go in with people in my corner.”

Crooks, the daughter of the late Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Jimmie Crooks and former Bishop Garrigan Michelle (Vitzthum) Cook, announced her decision Thursday morning in the gymnasium at Bishop Garrigan High School.

In front of his family and friends and with his mother by his side, Crooks had three sweatshirts laid out on the table. As she went to get one of the sweatshirts, she unzipped her jacket to reveal an Iowa State t-shirt instead.

“I’ve probably been aware for about two weeks,” Crooks said. “Iowa State is known for developing its guards and forwards.

“I want it to be known as a place for a real blue center.”

It was truly a difficult decision for Crooks to make, as the recruiting process was a time to build strong relationships.

“It was an enjoyable, nerve-wracking and fun process,” Crooks said. “I have developed so many strong bonds. I cried talking to a few coaches on the phone, but I made real friendships, so those feelings were genuine.

“Not everyone has the opportunity to go through this process, so it was an honor to have this experience.”

Crooks burst onto the scene two years ago, setting the IGHSAU scoring record for a freshman. She then helped Garrigan win the school’s first state championship at the end of last season.

Now that the decision has been made, Crooks will have another year to chase after a second state title.

“The focus has always been on the school ball,” Crooks said. “The only thing that will change is that this decision has been made.

Once constant for Crooks was the support of his friends and family.

“They’ve been there every step of the way,” Crooks said. “They support my decision and would have it no matter where I decided to play.

“They’re still in my corner.”

Crooks, a 6-foot-3 center, is the 58th-best prospect in the nation according to ESPN. As a three-time all-stater, she led the Golden Bears to three straight state championship games.

Crooks is the third Top 60 rookie for the Cyclones. She joins Addyson Brown (#41 Kansas) and Jalynn Bristow (#48 Texas) in the class of 2023.

Crooks had career-high points and rebounds with 659 and 349, respectively, in 2021-22. She became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,845 points and is closing in on 1,000 career rebounds (955).

“She’s a true teammate and selfless player,” Garrigan head coach Brandon Schwab said. “Audi is a gamer who wants to win and doesn’t care about awards.

“She’s not just an outstanding player, but a great leader and a great person.”

Heading into her senior season, Crooks is looking to become the 21st player in state history to score 2,000 points. For his career, Crooks is averaging 22.5 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. His field goal percentage is 71.1%.

“She is totally determined to do what she can to make the team better, and is doing that at the AAU as well,” Schwab said. “Audi is in a ton of games in the offseason and is still working on conditioning and weightlifting.

“She wants to take her game to the next level in college. I saw improvements every day, and his goal now is to win another state title.

In her nine state tournament games, Crooks is the tournament’s career leader in rebounds with 120 and second in points with 214. She was named to three Class 1A All-Tournament teams and served as captain as a rookie.

Crooks, the 2020 Gatorade Player of the Year, received offers from schools across the country.

“Audi is pleased to be committed to the state of Iowa,” Schwab said. “I am thrilled for her and her family and her entire support system. She just went through such an emotional process.

“Now she can breathe and proudly wear the Iowa State uniform.”

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