Missouri State joined the Liza Fruendt sweepstakes later than many of the star Batavia point guard’s other suitors.
Timing doesn’t have to be everything. As soon as Fruendt arrived on MSU’s Springfield, Mo., campus this week, she realized she wanted to Bear down.
Fruendt verbally committed to play her college baskeball for the Missouri Valley Conference school after taking an official visit Wednesday night and Thursday. She arrived home Friday with a gut feeling and big news.
“It wasn’t even like I was a recruit, you know,” Fruendt said. “I fit in right away, and it was just natural.”
The reigning Kane County Chronicle Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Fruendt averaged 19.7 points as a junior while amping up her leadership role for a young – and streamlined – team.
Batavia scored a breakthrough 18-win season despite keeping just eight varsity players.
While Fruendt remained a solid distributor and defender, her presence as a scorer added to her college exposure. She estimated “12 or 13” offers, including those from in-state schools Loyola, Illinois State and Northern Illinois. Fruendt also entertained thoughts of joining Geneva senior Sidney Santos at Oakland (Mich.). Santos committed Tuesday.
“I was planning on going to visit there after my visit to Missouri State, but it just worked out that this was it,” said Fruendt, whose older brother, Nick, played at Northwestern.
Missouri State saw Fruendt play AAU ball last month and offered her a scholarship during the July recruiting period.
Fruendt, who’s entering her fourth varsity season for the Bulldogs, was especially impressed with the Missouri State coaching staff.
Head coach Kellie Harper, who joined the program from North Carolina State in April, won three national championships as a player under legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
Harper’s assistants include her husband, Jon, as well as former Bears standout Jackie Stiles, whose 3,393 career points as a player in the late 1990s and early 2000s still stand as an NCAA record. Stiles led Missouri State to the Final Four in 2001.
“I go there and that is the best of the best,” Fruendt said. “The things that I’m going to learn from Kellie, the things that I’m going to learn from Jackie is going to be stuff that’s not just on the court, but for the rest of my life.”