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Ava Jones signs with Iowa five months after life-changing accident

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Ava Jones signed with the University of Iowa on Wednesday. (Sandra J. Milburn/The Hutchinson News via USA TODAY NETWORK)

A little more than five months removed from an accident that changed everything, Ava Jones made it official Wednesday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her playing career at the University of Iowa.

A 6-foot-2 forward from Nickerson, Kan., Jones averaged 20.8 points and 15.4 rebounds per game last season for the Panthers. She committed to the Hawkeyes on July 3, and two days later, she and her family were walking along a sidewalk in downtown Louisville when a driver hit the family of four.

Ava and her mother, Amy, were in a medically induced coma for more than a week, while her father, Trey, passed away three days later. He was 42. Ava’s younger brother, Creek, was also involved in the accident but escaped with minor injuries.

The driver, Michael Hurley, told police at the scene of the accident that he had just taken Hydrocodone and was “so tired he could not make the turn.” He was indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 31 and charged with one count of murder, two counts of first-degree aggravated assault, one count of fourth-degree aggravated assault and operating a vehicle while under the influence.

Ava and Amy returned to their home in Kansas on Aug. 18, and on Sept. 17, the family held a memorial service to honor Trey’s life. During an Iowa public board meeting in early October, Iowa coach Lisa Bluder raised concerns that Ava may never play basketball again after MRI scans revealed that the 17-year-old had torn all four major ligaments in both of her knees.

“I can’t believe she was walking,” Bluder told Iowa’s Presidential Committee on Athletics on Oct. 6. “The doctor said, ‘I’ve never seen a person come in here with four torn ligaments in a knee and not be crying.’”

Ava is currently ranked as the No. 84 player in ESPN’s Class of 2023 women’s basketball recruiting rankings. She’s the reigning Class 3A girls basketball player of the year in Kansas and was MVP of the Central Kansas League.

“We are signing her because we believe in her and she believes in us,” Bluder said in a press release. “She is a remarkable athlete with great versatility. She is working hard to return to the athlete she was.

“When she takes the floor for Iowa, it will be a special moment for all of us.”