Ali Patberg has been an Indiana University fan her whole life.
Next year, she’ll get to be a part of the Hoosier athletics family.
The 2015 Indiana Miss Basketball and McDonald’s All-American from Columbus North announced Sunday night that she is transferring to IU. That came two weeks after her decision to leave Notre Dame.
“From the very beginning, when I was a sophomore (in high school), I wanted to stay in Indiana because that’s where my heart is,” Patberg said. “It’s going to be awesome. I’m very close to my family and my friends from home. I wouldn’t say that influenced me, because I wanted to find the right fit for me. But they’ve supported me all through the good and bad times.”
Those times were mostly good throughout her four years at North. She led the Bull Dogs to four consecutive regional titles and the 2015 Class 4A state championship.
Things haven’t been as good for her the past two years at Notre Dame.
She tore an ACL in preseason practice as a freshman, then battled a couple of bouts of illness while averaging 0.8 points in 7.7 minutes a game this season.
Patberg also had a visit scheduled to Michigan this week but canceled that after a weekend visit with IU.
“We are thrilled that Ali has chosen to continue her academic and athletic career at Indiana University,” IU coach Teri Moren said in a statement. “As one of the most decorated players to come out of the state of Indiana, she will be a great addition to our roster. She comes from a great basketball family, and we are looking forward to having them all join the IU basketball family.”
This weekend, Patberg was hosted by Hoosiers All-Big Ten point guard Tyra Buss. Buss and fellow IU junior Amanda Cahill played a little 2-on-2 with Patberg and a potential transfer from Pitt.
Patberg will have to sit out next season, per NCAA transfer rules, but could take over for Buss beginning with the 2018-17 season.
“I had a great visit,” Patberg said. “I really like Tyra. She’s a good leader, and she’s really competitive and works hard. I’ll get to learn from her and compete with her every day in practice. I’ll hopefully make her better while she makes me better.”
Patberg was recruited early in her high school career by IU, which was then coached by Curt Miller. However, she committed to Notre Dame during her sophomore year at Columbus North.
Moren just finished her third year with the Hoosiers, leading them to a 23-11 mark and a spot in the postseason WNIT quarterfinals. She reached out to Patberg by phone after Patberg announced she was transferring.
“I’m really excited about the program she’s creating,” Patberg said. “I loved the people and the values that it stands for. They’re building something special there, and I want to be a part of it.”
One connection Patberg will have with the IU program is April McDivitt-Schilling. The former Connersville star transferred from Tennessee to UC-Santa Barbara after her junior year at UT.
McDivitt-Schilling and her husband, Ed Schilling, worked with Patberg at Champions Academy in Indianapolis when Patberg was in grades 8-10. The Schillings have been in California the past couple of years while Ed has been an assistant at UCLA, but he recently accepted an assistant coaching position on new IU men’s coach Archie Miller’s staff.
“(April) was a very good role model for me, how she handled herself on the floor and off the floor,” Patberg said. “It’s definitely a huge bonus for her to be there.”
Patberg’s transfer also will be a bonus for her family and friends.
“It will be nice for us to be able to be close,” said her father Ron, an assistant with the North girls program. “It’s a 45-minute drive at the most, and we’ll be able to see her more often. She’ll have a closer support system.”