By Jordan Zuniga
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Iowa men’s basketball program could be a team that contends for the final four in this upcoming season.
But the 2018-19 season may be the one in which the Hawkeyes break a 61-year absence from college basketball’s biggest stage.
Next season, Iowa basketball will welcome Joe Wieskamp, the No. 1 recruit from Iowa and a top-40 recruit nationally.
He could turn out to be the highest-rated recruit ever for head coach Fran McCaffrey and even one of the best recruits ever in Iowa basketball history.
Wieskamp, a shooting guard playing high-school basketball for the Muscatine Muskies, is coming off a junior year in which he averaged 30.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.9 blocks per game.
When Wieskamp committed to play for Iowa in November, he was a solid jump shooter; he has since worked hard to improve his drive and slash game.
This summer, he played in AAU ball for the Iowa Barnstormers and once again had success.
The 6-4 guard has proved he is worthy of his ranking — he and his team competed in the Adidas Summer U-17 Summer Championship in Las Vegas, a tournament that featured talented young players such as LeMelo Ball.
Wieskamp’s Barnstormers surged to the elite eight, where they throttled D1 Minnesota, 85-63.
In that game, he put up 26 points and 5 rebounds, giving his team a final-four berth.
That was as far as he and the Barnstormers went; they were defeated by the New England Playerz, 75-68.
During the tournament, Wieskamp averaged 18 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor.
Iowa fans hope Wieskamp can continue to improve in his last year before becoming a Hawkeye.
Last season, the Hawkeyes finished 19-15, fifth in the Big Ten, and earned a bid to the NIT.
Iowa defeated South Dakota, 87-75, but lost to TCU in overtime during the second round.
The Hawkeyes will miss prime starter Peter Jok now that he has started his professional career, and the Hawkeyes can hope that Wieskamp can fill some holes.
When Wieskamp joins the team next year, he will add to the loaded roster the Hawkeyes have, and as Kirk Ferentz says, “You can never have too many good players at one position.”