Not all that long ago, Aubrey Joens would visit her neighborhood library in Iowa City and walk home with a stack of books nearly as tall as she was. She used her sisters' accounts to add to the titles she could check out at once.
Now 17, Joens has consumed seven books in the past 17 days and figures she will have completed about 35 by the end of the summer.
"It's very dangerous taking Aubrey to a library or a book store," her mom, Lisa Joens, said with a laugh. "She's not a movie watcher. If she's not playing basketball, she usually has her nose in a book.
"She's been known to have started four books basically at once, reading a couple of chapters of each."
Aubrey Joens (pronounced Jones) said she enjoys teen fiction as well as mysteries and anything about LeBron James.
As for her basketball talent, the book on Joens is a thriller, especially for the coaches at Iowa State.
A 5-foot-9 guard for Iowa City High (Iowa), Joens committed to the Cyclones last August and is the No. 69 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2020 class.
"She's known for the quick release," Iowa City coach Bill McTaggart said. "She's also a good rebounder, and she's unflappable."
Joens, who averaged 22.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a first-team all-state selection as a junior, has been preceded at Iowa City by two of her four sisters.
Courtney Joens, a 5-10 guard, is a rising senior for the University of Illinois. As a high school junior, she set the Iowa City single-game scoring record with 42 points.
Ashley Joens, a 6-0 shooting guard, is a rising sophomore at Iowa State. As a prep senior and in the year she won Miss Iowa Basketball honors, she broke Courtney's record by scoring 45 points against Waterloo East.
Due to a brief break in her schedule at Illinois, Courtney was at that game, watching as Ashley poured in 40 points by halftime.
"Courtney came down to the bench and told me, 'It's time to take her out,'" said McTaggart, relaying the at-least-half-in-jest request.
As it turned out, Ashley stayed in just long enough to break the record.
Aubrey's best scoring total so far is 37, and she has one season left to catch or surpass Ashley. But even if Aubrey gets that done, she would still have to hold off sister No. 4, Kelsey, a 5-9 guard who will be an Iowa City freshman this fall.
"Kelsey is a scorer," McTaggart said. "As a seventh-grader, she scored 47 points, breaking Ashley's (junior high) record of 45.
"Usually, if a kid scores even four points, her parents are so thrilled they take her out to eat dinner. So, 47 is pretty good."
Sister No. 5, Bailey, will start second grade this fall. But she already has shown promise.
"Just the other day, she made her first 3-pointer, and she was ecstatic," said dad Brian Joens. "We don't tell her to do it, but sometimes she participates in the workouts with her sisters."
Brian, a 6-0 guard in his playing days, met Lisa, a 5-11 power forward, when they competed for Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa).
A couple years after that, they started their basketball family ...
Please pass the tenderloins
Basketball is the family obsession. But the family business?
That's Joensy's, an American-fare restaurant known for its pork tenderloins. It's located on North Dodge Street in Iowa City. Brian cooks, Lisa runs the register, and the girls, when they are available, wait tables.
The family uses some outside help for their 90-seat restaurant, but mostly Brian, Lisa and the girls are the regulars.
Recently, it was, for a moment, just Brian and little Bailey -- or so Brian thought -- during a slow time at the restaurant.
"I was in the back, cooking, when Bailey said, 'I need two taco salads,'" Brian said. "I said, 'Who for?'"
As it turns out, a couple had arrived, and Bailey had already served them soft drinks and taken their order.
Courtney and Ashley have used the money they have earned at the restaurant to buy their first cars.
Nothing is just handed to the Joens girls, who have learned other lessons at the eatery as well.
"It helps with communication when you wait on tables from a young age," Aubrey said. "We learn life skills."
The restaurant is adorned with a University of Illinois flag, complete with a photo of Courtney; and similar treatment for Iowa State and Ashley. Brian said many loyal Iowa State fans make the two-hour trek from Ames to eat at Joensy's.
Conspicuous by its absence at Joensy's: flags of the hometown Iowa Hawkeyes.
"People not familiar with our family have asked us about that," Brian Joens said. "The answer is that the University of Iowa hasn't recruited any of our girls.
"I have no idea why. They didn't tell me, and I didn't ask. We couldn't be happier with Illinois and Iowa State."
Another cool thing about Joensy's is that there are always basketballs behind the counter.
If there are young kids/aspiring basketball players dining at Joensy's, the girls can often be found in the parking lot, giving a quick lesson on ball-handling drills.
"It's nice to find kids who want to learn," said Aubrey, who wants to major in elementary education. "I guess they look up to us."
Aubrey was in fifth grade when she first made her mark for Iowa City's high school summer team. With several of the older girls busy playing with AAU teams, McTaggart made a strategic pregame stop.
"Whenever I'm shorthanded," McTaggart said with a laugh, "all I have to do is pull into Joensy's with an extra jersey."
In this particular game six years ago, McTaggart's rival coach called an early timeout.
"He was irate," McTaggart said. "Aubrey had made four 3-pointers in the first five minutes. She was just chewing gum and firing them up there.
"Their coach was yelling, 'They have one kid who can score. Can't you identify her?' They kind of shut her down after that."
If only for a game. Aubrey has continued to work, following the lead of Courtney and Ashley. Growing up, there were always basketballs, soccer balls and volleyballs around the house. Opening a door to the family car came with the risk of balls spilling out.
Another family trait is coachability.
"If you tell a Joens kid, 'We're going to try to run through the gym wall at practice today,' they would try to do it," McTaggart said. "And when the season is over, you will find the Joens girls in the gym the very next day -- sometimes all five of them."
McTaggart, who has coached Iowa City for 21 years, won his most recent state title in 2008, which was before any of the Joenses arrived.
However, Iowa City has won seven straight conference titles, all of them with at least one Joens. And Aubrey has made it to the state tournament in all three years, losing in the title game as a sophomore.
"We are expecting a big senior year from Aubrey," McTaggart said. "If we make it to the promised land, she will be a big reason why."