Muscatine vs. Burlington Girls Basketball

Muscatine 5-foot-10 junior Annabel Graettinger will play her college basketball at South Dakota State, which has made the NCAA Tournament each of the past five seasons.

South Dakota State University was not on Annabel Graettinger's radar three months ago.

"If you would have asked me my top schools early this summer, they wouldn't have been on it," she admitted. "I didn't think about them."

But after Muscatine girls basketball coach Susan Orvis encouraged Graettinger to take a look at the school in Brookings, S.D., in early August, it led to the 5-foot-10 junior finding her college home.

Graettinger verbally committed Thursday to South Dakota State, a program that has been to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments and won at least 20 games in four of those five seasons.

"The coaching staff is really stable," said Graettinger, who has played the past three summers for Team Iowa, an AAU program coached by James Moses. "A.J. (Head coach Aaron Johnston) has been there for 13 years and obviously has had a ton of success. I absolutely fell in love with it.

"Another positive is they aren't afraid to play the top teams."

Georgetown, Stanford, Penn State and Notre Dame are among the teams on South Dakota State's schedule this winter.

Graettinger missed her freshman season at Muscatine with a torn ACL and suffered an elbow injury a month later. She returned last season and averaged 7.8 points and just more than 3 rebounds a contest for the Muskies, who posted 20 victories and reached the Class 5A state tournament.

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"The road to my basketball success hasn't been easy," Graettinger said. "It definitely has been tough, but I wouldn't try and change anything. I've learned a lot about myself. It has made me realize how much I love to play when you can't play.

"I've worked harder."

Orvis said Graettinger has responded well from her setback.

"She's invested a lot into summer ball and spends a lot of time working on her game," Orvis said. "It is nice to see that reward for her work."

Graettinger, also a swimmer, spent the fall touring colleges across the country. She made visits to Boston, Drake, Princeton, South Dakota State, Vermont and Western Michigan.

Orvis, a former college assistant, assisted Graettinger in sifting through the information and reaching a decision.

"She helped me navigate through this whole process," Graettinger said. "I owe a lot to her through the decision-making process. She would check on me after every visit.

"It was nice to have someone who knows what it is like. She was very helpful."

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Sports Editor

Sports editor, with my emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 19 years, the last seven at the Q-C Times.