The phone calls subsided. The letters dwindled. 

After productive freshman and sophomore seasons on the basketball court for Pleasant Valley, Kira Arthofer saw her recruiting change in an instant. 

The point guard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during an AAU tournament in the summer of 2016 and missed her entire junior season. College coaches backed off on the 5-foot-8 Arthofer.

"It was kind of frustrating at the beginning," she said. "You work so hard for all of those seasons and then to have it drop off in one year, it was tough."

This story, however, has a happy ending for Arthofer.

She returned to the court in late April with her AAU team, the All-Iowa Attack. Several months later, her AAU coach reached out to first-year Eastern Illinois coach Matt Bollant about Arthofer. 

Arthofer took an official visit last weekend to the Charleston, Illinois, campus and was offered a scholarship. 

On Monday, Arthofer verbally committed to Eastern Illinois and will sign a national letter of intent in November.

"For me, a lot of it was the coaches and how friendly they were," she said. "Then when I was on my official and hung out with the players on the team, I just seemed to click with how they work."

Arthofer, who was considering Idaho University earlier this summer, scored 545 points in her first two seasons with PV.

Then in July 2016, the first summer viewing period for college coaches, Arthofer jumped up for a pass during an AAU game. A girl collided with her knee and she landed awkwardly.

Her meniscus was torn from how she landed. The ACL was torn from the contact with the opposing player, she said. 

Arthofer had to sit and watch the Spartans' 19-4 season that ended in the regional final last year.

"I think I've learned to appreciate the game a lot more," she said. "Growing up, I really felt I could take it for granted. If I had a bad day, I'd get it the next day. A year off from playing showed how easy it is to lose it.

"It makes me want to play harder every single game no matter who we're playing."

Arthofer had doubts during her rehabilitation if she would ever land a Division I scholarship, a lifelong dream. 

But her trainers and physical therapist were confident she could return and be just as strong physically as she was before the setback.

"It worked out," she said. 

Arthofer believes there is an opportunity for immediate playing time at Eastern Illinois. The Panthers were 9-19 overall and 5-11 in the Ohio Valley Conference last season.

The program has only one other true point guard currently. 

"To be able to fit in and make an impact right away would be great," she said. "Even if it is just playing a few minutes, that would be insane that first year."

First, Arthofer is eager to get back on the court for the Spartans.

Her teammate, Ellie Spelhaug, committed to Bradley earlier this summer, and PV is expected to be ranked among the top 10 teams in Class 5A to begin the year.

"I'm so excited," Arthofer said. "It is a whole different feeling being on the court with your best friends playing than sitting there watching them and wanting to help in any way possible. 

"I really want to show them I'm there for them and will compete as hard as I can for them this year."

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Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.