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Ava Jones highlights Iowa women's basketball national signing day


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The events of National Signing Day are often more a formality than newsworthy, with many prospects simply cementing their college selections made long ago.

Not the case for Ava Jones.

Wednesday’s signing marked another memorable moment in Jones’ tragically inspiring story that’s swept across the basketball world and beyond. The Iowa women’s basketball prospect inked with the Hawkeyes in a ceremony at Nickerson High School in Nickerson, Kansas — barely four months after surviving a horrific accident that altered her life entirely.

“We are signing her because we believe in her and she believes in us,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said in a school release. “She is a remarkable athlete with great versatility. She is working hard to return to the athlete she was.

“When she takes the floor for Iowa, it will be a special moment for all of us.”   

Since being hit by an impaired driver on July 5 — a crash that left Jones with multiple torn ligaments in both knees, a traumatic brain injury and other issues — Iowa’s latest signee has shown plenty of resiliency and determination. Jones recently returned to the court with her trainer Craig Nicholson, a move she told KWCH News “made (her) feel more normal.”

Bluder has already said Iowa will keep Jones on scholarship, no matter if she returns to the court or not. As evident by the numerous responses to her official signing announcement, Jones has plenty of supporters in her corner.

"I’m a fan!" Ole Miss women’s basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin tweeted. “Love from Oxford MS!”

"An absolute rockstar, fighter and pillar of strength right here," women's basketball analyst Rachel Galligan tweeted. "Congratulations on signing day @avajones_35! We are ALL behind you."

Iowa also signed 5-foot-4 guard Kennise Johnson out of Joliet, Illinois. Johnson is a top-15 prospect in the state of Illinois and led Example Academy to the Prep School National Championship last season.

“Kennise brings us great speed and a defensive tenacity that we need," Bluder said. "She also brings great energy to all aspects of the game. Overall, we’re excited about the different skillset she gives us in the backcourt.”

Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.