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COURTING AUDI

Div. I schools from across the country tracking Garrigan's precocious hoop star

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Audi Crooks of Bishop Garrigan scores during the girls state basketball tournament last March in Des Moines. Crooks is the daughter of Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Jimmy Crooks and former Garrigan standout Michelle (Vitzthum) Cook.

ALGONA — Audi Crooks of Bishop Garrigan burst onto the high school basketball scene as a freshman last season and caught everyone’s eye.

With record-breaking numbers, she etched her name into state history and earned the attention of college coaches everywhere at the young age of 15 years old.

With three high school seasons still to come in her career, Crooks is already getting looks — and offers — from major Div. I programs.

“The recruiting process has been super exciting,” said Crooks, the daughter of 1986 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Jimmie Crooks and former Garrigan standout Michelle (Vitzthum) Cook.

. “It seems crazy to be recruited by the colleges that I see playing on TV. It’s been going well, and what I enjoy is learning more about the culture of all the schools and forming a bond with the coaches.

“My plans for right now are to get ready for this upcoming season and make it back to the Well (Wells Fargo Arena).”

Hometown schools Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake have extended offers, as well as national power Maryland from the Big Ten. Crooks has also heard from Missouri State, University of Nebraska Omaha and University of Missouri Kansas City so far.

“Ultimately down the road I want to continue to have a successful high school career both in the classroom and on the court,” Crooks said. “After high school I want to play college basketball.”

Crooks helped lead Bishop Garrigan to the Class 1A state championship and was named the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Class 1A Player of the Year for the 2019-20 campaign.

The 6-foot-3 post player was a monster in the low post for the Golden Bears. Crooks became the state’s all-time freshman scoring leader with 626 points. She also broke the freshman record of field goals made with 270, and had a 70.7 field goal percentage, second best ever among freshmen. Crooks was the third-best rebounder in the state at 320.

She took center stage at the Class 1A state tournament and became captain of the squad. Crooks led the tournament with 76 points for a 25.3-point per game average. She was also the leader in field goal attempts (56) and field goals made (35). She was the top rebounder with 45, 15 per contest.

Through the process, Crooks has leaned heavily on her uncle, Matt Vitzthum, who is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Grand Valley State University.

“My uncle, who coaches college football, has been an outlet during the recruiting process,” Crooks said. “He has good insight and helps guide me through it.

“Both Brandon Schwab (Garrigan girls coach) and Charles Young, my high school and AAU coaches (respecitvely), have helped me communicate with colleges. College coaches can’t directly contact me because of my age, so those two have been a huge help during the process.

“I think that going through the process is such a blessing. I’ve already learned so much, and I’m really excited to see what the future brings.”

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