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Signing Day: Iowa State women ink three, including Tennessee star born in Iowa

Tommy Birch
Des Moines Register

Denae Fritz is coming home.

Fritz, a star guard from Maryville High School in Tennessee, signed her letter of intent Wednesday to play for the Iowa State women’s basketball team. The 5-foot-11 guard was one of three players to sign with the Cyclones. But Fritz stands out for one reason: She’s originally from Iowa.

“It’s going to be really exciting coming back,” Fritz said. “I’m super excited.”

Fritz has mostly just visited Iowa over the years. She still has family in the state since her father Daeon is from Battle Creek-Ida Grove and her mother Carrie Stephens is from Lawton. Stephens, who got her PhD from Iowa State, was working as a lecturer when Denae was born.

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When Denae was about nine months old, Stephens got a job as a professor at the University of Tennessee. So the family packed its bags and moved. The only memories Fritz has of Iowa are trips back over the years to see family. But she’s about to make some new ones. Coming back to Iowa was a selling point during the recruiting process for Fritz, who had originally committed to Belmont.

Maryville basketball star Denae Fritz was born in Iowa.

“It’s kind of cool how God took me from going to Ames to Maryville and then back to Ames to finish that,” Fritz said.

Fritz averaged 21.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a junior. She’s joined in the class by Maggie Vick and Izzi Zingaro. Vick, a 6-4 forward from Morristown, Tenn., averaged 13.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game as a junior. Zingaro, a 6-4 forward from Bolton, Ontario, Canada, averaged 23.6 points, 15.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season.

“Really excited to have those three,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “They fit our team. They fit exactly what our other kids are like and I’m looking forward to having them on campus.”

Tommy Birch, the Register's sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He's the 2018 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at tbirch@dmreg.com or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.