Anna Prins` luck her first semester of college was as harsh as the frigid moist air that sweeps across harvested fields and bites bare skin during Iowa winters.

Neither gets her down.

"I have a little Iowa blood in me so it hasn`t been too bad," the 6-foot-7 center on Iowa State`s women`s basketball team says of Ames` climate.

As for the stress fracture and bout with mononucleosis that have plagued her in recent months? Well, they don`t even rate a mention when asked how college life is treating her.

"I`m really liking it here and just getting used to playing and school at the same time and social life," she says. "Overall, I`ve been having the best time and it`s a perfect fit."Life as a Cyclone must be good, because Prins` time in Iowa so far has been anything but easy-going, even if her attitude and demeanor suggest otherwise.

The Broomfield High School product returns Saturday to the site where she helped the Eagles win three straight Class 4A state titles when the Cyclones face the Colorado Buffaloes at 4:30 p.m. at the Coors Events Center. And she comes to Boulder having endured more in her first semester away from home than she could have imagined.

A blue-chip recruit who was coveted by everyone from Duke to Texas to the Buffs, Prins joined a depleted Iowa State front line looking to make an impact right away.

Unused to the physical rigors of college weight lifting and workouts, though, Prins developed a stress fracture in her tibia before ISU`s first official practice.


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She missed weeks of conditioning and preseason workouts. But she healed in time to start in the Cyclones` first five games, averaging 13 points and six rebounds in those contests.

Then mono struck in early December.

Prins managed to finish her classes, but she missed six games and four weeks of practice while she recovered and nursed herself back to health.

"I think it`s been hard," 15th-year ISU coach Bill Fennelly says. "But she`s been very well prepared by her parents and her (high school) coaches. She doesn`t get down. She has a very mature approach to it, very business-like.

"She`s very skilled, wants to be good and works hard at it. By the time she gets healthy, this season will probably be over, but she is someone who has the chance to be a really good college player."

Prins has eased back into the 12-3 Cyclones` rotation, playing in the last four games and returning to the starting lineup in a loss at Texas A&M on Wednesday. But the ISU coaching staff has been careful not to over-extend her, limiting her to two-minute spurts on the court during games.

Prins -- whose father, Ardell, played at Colorado State after growing up in northwest Iowa -- says she`s not sure how close to 100 percent she is because she hasn`t been at that level all season.

"But I feel a lot better than I did when I first came back," she adds.

Prins says patience has been crucial for her as she has worked to regain her conditioning and catch up on the ISU schemes. She credits her family, teammates and prayer with helping her keep her even keel.

"Obviously I wasn`t expecting any of this to happen," she says. "But I tried not to have a negative attitude through it all and keep my head up, because that`s the last thing I needed to do was feel sorry for myself.

"I know everything happens for a reason."

Despite the setbacks, Prins has been able to make her mark, and not just because she`s the tallest player in ISU history.

The Cyclones have three freshman posts playing significant minutes, and Prins leads the way. Fennelly has been particularly impressed with her shooting ability and says local fans who saw Prins play mostly inside in high school will probably see her getting the green light from long range in Boulder on Saturday. She has hit seven of 16 3-pointers this season.

"If you wanted to teach somebody how to shoot the ball, Anna Prins could be a video, and that had nothing to do with us," Fennelly says. "She came to us with a great skill set."

Prins admits she`s got plenty to work on, primarily in gaining the strength to deal with the physical nature of the college game. She finished with just two points and four rebounds against the Aggies on Wednesday.

But win, lose or watch, Prins says she`s been completely at ease with her college choice. 

The Cyclones have drawn 7,000 or more fans for all but one of their home games. After an eight-point, six-rebound performance in a close loss to Nebraska last weekend, Prins found herself surrounded by autograph-seeking youngsters clad in ISU gear.

"The atmosphere is just so fun here," she says. "It`s been a great experience so far and I`m excited for the future."