There’s really no need to ask President/Program Director Dickson Jensen what the All Iowa Attack Nike Elite Youth Basketball League team’s goal is. With no prompting, he’ll tell you.
“We’re playing for a national championship,’’ Jensen said.
It’s a plain and simple goal and it’s been that way for a long time.
“It’s our culture,’’ Jensen said. “We play to win. We run a college program. We don’t play to participate.’’
It makes it a heckuva lot easier and legitimate to talk like that when you can back it up. Jensen certainly can. Before the world got off kilter thanks to Covid 19 the last two years, the All Iowa Attack arguably was the best program on the EYBL circuit.
In 2019, the Attack’s 10th grade team won the Nike EYBL national championship and the 11th grade team finished second. In 2018, the Attack’s 11th grade team won the Nike National Championship.
That kind of success doesn’t come by accident.
“We’re very blessed to be very successful and we hope that continues,’’ Jensen said. “Most of our kids have played for me since the fourth grade. They didn’t come to me as really good basketball players. But they became really good basketball players.’’
It’s not all that hard to figure out how that happens. The Attack draws most of its players from within Iowa with an occasional player coming from nearby states like South Dakota and Wisconsin. That means the Attack players are as geographically spread out as some other teams and they can spend more time practicing together.
“In general, we go three hours on Wednesday nights,’’ Jensen said. “We practice four hours Sunday night and four hours Sunday morning. We practice very hard and the girls that aren’t on our EYBL team are practicing with us and they’re not very far off the EYBL level. By the time the games roll around, they’re easy compared to our practices.’’
Wins also tend to come easy when you have one of the top point guards in the nation. The Attack has that in Kamorea “KK’ Arnold from Germantown, WI. She’s 5-foot-9 and ranked as the country’s No. 6 player in the country for the Class of 2023 by All-Star Girls Report. College coaches will be watching Arnold closely this spring and summer, but they’ll be doing it with envious eyes.
Arnold already has committed to national powerhouse UConn.
“Everybody in the college basketball world knows about KK,’’ Jensen said. “But I think they’re going to be surprised to see something new. She really is a much better shooter now than she was in the past. She wasn’t really pushed on the shooting part before because scoring around the basket came so naturally to her. But she’s worked really hard to become a better shooter.’’
Jensen said the core of his team is built around Arnold and Sahara Williams, a 6-foot forward from Waterloo, IA. Williams is ranked 215 by ASGR. Williams will play more on the inside with the Attack, but Jensen sees her as a small forward in college.’’
“”KK and Sahara are our two kingpins,’’ Jensen said. “Sahara hasn’t committed yet, but she can get any BCS offer she wants. After those two, we have some really strong shooters. That’s kind of been the story of our program. There aren’t a lot of 6-5 post players in Iowa. So we play classic small ball.’’
Arianna Jackson will be starter at the No. 2 guard. She’s ranked No. 96 by ASGR and already has committed to Iowa State.
“She’s very athletic and a tremendous defender,’’ Jensen said. “Iowa State is going to get a heckuva player.’’
Kelsey Joens will be the starter at the No. 3 position. The 5-11 Iowa City native is ranked No. 108 by ASGR and she comes from a family that is the basketball equivalent of royalty.
One of her sisters, Ashley, came through the Attack program and went on to become one of the best players in Iowa State’s history leading them deep into the NCAA tournament in 2022. Another sister, Aubrey, is also at Iowa State.
Yet another sister, Courtney, went to Illinois. Kelsey won’t fall Courtney’s path. But she will follow in the footsteps of Ashley and Aubrey after committing to Iowa State.
“The best way to summarize Kelsey is to say that she’s cut from the same Joens mode,’’ Jensen said.
Halle Vice will be the fifth starter and she’s not as big a name as some of her teammates in basketball circles. That’s because the 6-1 Vice had been viewed as the best volleyball player in Iowa. But, after making it clear that she plans to focus strictly on basketball in college, Vice has drawn recruiting interest from Oklahoma State, Marquette, Northern Iowa and Drake.
Brooklin Dailey, a 6-foot forward ranked No. 367 by ASGR, is expected to be the first player off the bench. Dailey already has committed to Drake.
The other two players off the bench are 5-11 shooting guard Aili Tanke, who is ranked No. 88 by ASGR in the Class of 2024 and 5-10 point guard Divine Bourrage, who is ranked No. 37 in ASGR’s Class of 2025. Tanke already has committed to Iowa State.
“We’ll use this year for Divine to learn under KK,’’ Jensen said. “After that, she’ll be my horse. We’ve got four or five other players on our next team that easily could be on the top team. But eight is enough. This way, everybody gets to play. And, when everybody gets to play, everybody is happy.’’