Why are players leaving the Iowa State women's basketball team? Denae Fritz gives her take.

Iowa State guard Denae Fritz has entered the transfer portal since the end of the season.
Iowa State guard Denae Fritz has entered the transfer portal since the end of the season.

Former Iowa State women’s basketball player Denae Fritz loved playing at Hilton Coliseum and in front of the school’s passionate fan base.

There was one thing she didn’t like, though: Iowa State’s style of play.

Fritz said that’s what led her to the transfer portal. She believes that’s a big reason why several Cyclones, including two other starters, also decided to transfer since the season ended.

“I don’t think anyone’s leaving for any other reason,” Fritz said. “The people are great here. We love the fans. I can’t complain about that. But … I just don’t think that style of play fits how I want to play my career out.”

Iowa State women's basketball players, including Lexi Donarski, have entered the transfer portal

Fritz became the fifth known player to enter the transfer portal since Iowa State’s sudden loss to Toledo in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. She joined guards Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw and Lexi Donarski along with post players Morgan Kane and Maggie Vick.


Espenmiller-McGraw, who began her career as a starter, logged important minutes off the bench. Kane started parts of the last two seasons. Vick was a seldom-used post player. Donarski and Fritz were major contributors and surprise additions to the portal.

Donarski, a three-year starter, was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. Fritz, a redshirt freshman, played in three games a freshman before missing the remainder of the season with an injury. She came back during the 2022-23 season and started 31 of 32 games for the Cyclones, averaging 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while helping Iowa State reach the NCAA Tournament.

Why is Denae Fritz leaving the Cyclones?

After the season, Fritz said she went home to Tennessee and sat down with her family to talk about her future plans. Fritz said she decided she needed to "find a better fit offensively for my game to take it to the next level."

What is Fritz looking for?

"A faster-paced offense," she said. "That's all I'm going to say."

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Iowa State's stats, Emily Ryan confirms return

Iowa State ranked 28th (out of 350 teams) in Division I this season in scoring offense, averaging 75.4 points per game. Only Oklahoma had a higher average among Big 12 teams.

Iowa State tied for fifth in the Big 12 in offensive pace, with 72.2 possessions per game, according to Oklahoma was No. 1 in the league at 78.9, followed by Kansas State's 73.9.

The Cyclones' offense traditionally is built around 3-point shooting, and that was true again in 2022-23. Iowa State averaged nearly 27 attempts per game from beyond the arc, which ranked 11th among Division I teams. Only one Power 5 conference school (Arkansas) attempted more 3-pointers per contest than the Cyclones did.

Fritz thanked the fans for their support at Iowa State the last two seasons.

"It was a great atmosphere to play in," Fritz said. "Obviously they're a great crowd. They bring obviously the energy every night and honestly a lot of us couldn't do without them. They change the game in a lot of ways that they're not aware of. So we really appreciate them on every level."

Emily Ryan, the Cyclones' top returning player, reaffirmed her commitment to the program on her Twitter account Tuesday night. "Ride or die through it all. Love you Cyclone Nation," Ryan tweeted, with photos of Fennelly and the coaching staff included.

Tommy Birch, the Register's sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He's the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Denae Fritz on why Iowa State women are entering the transfer portal