There were few players more dominant in last year's Iowa girls state basketball tournament than North Scott's Grace Boffeli.
The Lancer post player averaged 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in three games, helping lead North Scott to its second Class 4A state title in the last three years.
That performance opened people's eyes, and a strong AAU season for Lady Martin Brothers Elite this summer has helped Boffeli's stock continue to rise.
"She's put a ton of time into it," North Scott head coach TJ Case said. "I always saw it there, but it was about trying to get the right place for her, to see what she can handle, what she can do."
That hard work has paid off as Boffeli committed Friday to continue her basketball career at Northern Iowa, joining head coach Tanya Warren's team in Cedar Falls.
"It was just the environment and the love from the players," Boffeli said. "The campus felt right to me, and it's kind of close to home, so I felt that was right as well. I just felt like it was the place to be, it was very welcoming, and all the players and coaches I love a lot and I could see myself with in the future."
Boffeli had offers from Eastern Illinois and Division II Truman State before she went to UNI's camp on Wednesday. The Panthers offered her that day.
"My main goal was just to wait until maybe July to see what other colleges were interested in me. But after the UNI offer and the camp I attended, I just felt that I could see myself there in the future and it just felt like home to me," said Boffeli, whose parents both attended UNI. "UNI has been a school I've wanted to go to ever since I was younger."
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A three-year starter for the Lancers, Boffeli received first team all-state honors from the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association and the Iowa Girls Coaches Association last season. The 6-foot-2 post player was also named the MAC player of the year and captain of the Class 4A all-tournament team after averaging 18 points and 10.9 rebounds.
"She's really good at knowing, I'm catching in the post and I've got three or four girls on me, the right move is a kick, or I have one on me and I'm ready to rip and attack," Case said. "She's very unselfish, but she's getting that mindset, like a senior, a four-year starter should, give me the ball, I want to score."
Boffeli will join former prep teammate Karli Rucker, who earned all-Missouri Valley Conference honors as a sophomore last season, on the Panthers. Boffeli was a freshman at North Scott when Rucker was a senior as the Lancers won their first state title in 2017.
The chance to team up again is an extra bonus.
"We talked a little bit about her experiences," Boffeli said. "The relationship between me and Karli is very close. Going through a state title with her when she was a senior and I was a little freshman, it's a little repeat again, and I'm excited. It's just going to be fun to play with her for the last time ever, and I can't wait to be with her and the whole team as well."
With the pressure off, Boffeli can now turn her attention to trying to help the Lancers repeat as state champs. With her inside presence now well-established, Boffeli has been working on her outside shooting and stretching the floor, giving defenders more to worry about this winter.
"I'd like to become more of a senior leader and help the younger ones out on the court, communicate and be a big leader," Boffeli said. "Playing-wise, obviously stretching it out and attempting and hitting more 3s, putting it on the ground, and being more versatile."