Ava Loftus

Stoughton junior Ava Loftus verbally committed to play basketball at Division II Minnesota State University Moorhead. Loftus is the top returning leading scorer for the Vikings who have started small group practices again.

Stoughton junior Ava Loftus verbally committed last week to play basketball at Division II Minnesota State University Moorhead starting in the 2022-23 season.

Loftus earned first-team Badger South All-Conference after averaging 11.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game last season.

“I think the decision just helped with all of the pressure during the pandemic,” Loftus said. “There was pressure with school and the recruiting period was a lot different than it usually is.”

The university is in Moorhead, Minnesota, and the Dragons have posted 19 straight winning seasons under head coach Karla Nelson, who has racked up a career record of 352-195.

Many schools were barred from giving in-person on-campus tours, and college coaches had to evaluate players based on video they had submitted and didn;t get the chance to go see as many prospects play in high school because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loftus said the university offered her an opportunity to join the team after just watching her game film. Coaches from the school haven’t seen her play in-person – instead, they received film from last season at Stoughton and her time with her AAU team, Wisconsin Flight Elite based in the Appleton-area.

“I just want to go out there and play and not worry about colleges and coaches watching,” she said.

Loftus was able to take a tour of Minnesota State Moorhead last year. She noticed a program that has 19 consecutive winning seasons.

“I think that just shows how strong of a program they have,” she said. “They believed in me from the beginning. They have a great recruiting class that is getting better.”

Loftus also visited Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Michigan; University of Minnesota-Duluth in Duluth, Minnesota and Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota.

“I wasn’t planning on signing until the beginning of my senior year,” she said. “Everything just felt right, so I did it.”