West Hancock’s Leerar Makes College Selection

One of the most sought after 2021 basketball players in North Iowa has made her college commitment. 

West Hancock Junior and three-time Iowa All-Stater, Rachel Leerar, has committed to The University of Nebraska Kearney. UNK is an NCAA Divison II program located in Kearney, Nebraska. She posted her decision on her Twitter account,

“I am extremely excited to announce that I have decided to continue my academic and basketball careers at the University of Nebraska, Kearney!!” – Rachel Leerar Via Twitter 

Rachel says she was looking for a school with good people and the right fit for her.

The Lopers just missed the NCAA Division II National Tournament this season with a 26-6 overall record, they finished third in the Mid-American Athletic Association and lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament. This past season was the fifth at the helm for Carrie Eighmey. She was a finalist for the 2020 NCAA Division II World Exposure Women’s Head Coach of the Year following her second season with 20 or more wins. 

This winter, Leerar helped West Hancock to a return trip to the Iowa High School Girls’ State Basketball Tournament but ended short of their goal. The second-seeded Eagles were bounced by the eventual champions, North Linn, in the semifinals. Leerar paced the Eagles scoring 533 points and shot 78% from the free-throw line. In two state tournament games, she scored 32 points and played 60 of 64 minutes. For the second-straight year, Leerar was also one of six girls named to the Iowa Class 2A All-Tournament Team. Rachel doesn’t just want to return to the state tournament in her senior year; she is chasing that elusive state title.

Leerar played for the North Iowa Fire AAU team growing up and credits Fire Coach, Todd Ciochetto, for helping her develop. 

Ciochetto is the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at NIACC and was just recently announced as the National Junior College Divison II Women’s Basketball Head Coach of the Year by the World Exposure Report. Ciochetto has accumulated over 150 wins and three Regional XI Titles in six seasons with the Trojans.

A truckload of top tier talented female athletes have come through our state, and Rachel Leerar is one of them. The AAU season gives those athletes the ability to compete against and team up with athletes outside of their area. Athletes get that same experience at the IGHSAU State Girls’ Basketball Tournament. Leerar says she looked up to former MoHawk standout, Cortni Rush. 

Rush is currently the Director of Women’s Basketball Operations at Drake, where she played for three seasons after an NJCAA All-American season at NIACC following her high school career.

Initial numbers indicate that Leerar and the Eagles will move back down to Class 1A, where they played two years ago when they played for the state title. Five athletes from last year’s team are lost to graduation, four of them starters. The new-look Eagles will be chasing history such as a first state title, first to make the state tournament three straight years, and for Leear, the first player to become a four-time all-stater.


Zarren Egesdal is the KIOW/KHAM Sports Director. He can be reached at or 641-585-1073


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