Before every season, Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly zeroes in on a player he believes could be an “X-factor” for the Cyclones in the upcoming campaign.

He already has someone in mind for this season.

“I think it could be Maddie Wise,” Fennelly said. “I’ve said this to other people: We’re asking Maddie to play a lot of different positions. Obviously, she wasn’t healthy last year (so) you hope for a great senior year for her — someone who gives us experience.”

Wise, a versatile 6-foot-1 guard/forward, has been a mainstay for the Cyclones the last three seasons. She appeared in 66 games her first two seasons, averaging 8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game as a freshman and 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game as a sophomore.

Then her junior season started and Wise experienced something she never had before: an injury. Persistent migraines kept her on the bench for a chunk of the season, missing 10 straight games at one point. When it was all said and done, Wise appeared in just 19 games, averaging 2.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. The season was mentally and physically difficult for her. 

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Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly believes Madison Wise could be the team’s x-factor this season. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave/The Register)

“Last year was definitely a struggle and definitely challenging for me,” Wise said. “I don’t think ever — before last year — I even missed a game.”

But those days may be behind her now. Wise said she’s healthy and ready to roll for this season. And Fennelly is banking on Wise to return to her old self. So much so that’s he’s looking at her to be the team’s “X-factor” this season. It’s a prediction he gave for Kristin Scott two seasons ago and for Jade Thurmon last season. Both delivered in their own ways. Now, it’s Wise’s turn.

“The contributions she can make in a lot of different ways, I think becomes really big for our team,” Fennelly said.

Wise, who has both started and come off the bench during her first three seasons, said she’s willing to accept any role Fennelly gives her this season.


“Just whatever is needed,” Wise said. “Whether that be sit on the bench and cheer, whether that be just a good teammate or subbing at the four, playing guard, whatever is needed — just step in and do what I can to help the team out.”

Her willingness helps. But so does the fact that Wise is now healthy and hopefully putting the migraines behind her for good.

“I think just having the confidence from my teammates and my coaches and my trainer, just knowing that it wasn’t really concussion based and it was just a migraine cycle that I couldn’t get out of,” Wise said. “That’s definitely helped my confidence a lot, knowing that it had nothing to do with getting hit so just getting