By Sean Bock
On Feb. 2, Iowa signee Joe Wieskamp and his Muscatine team hosted Bettendorf and D.J. Carton, the No. 1 point-guard target in the Hawkeyes’ 2019 recruiting class.
Behind Wieskamp’s career-high 54 points, the Muskies defeated the Bulldogs, 64-50, with Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery and his son (and 2019 commit) Patrick in attendance.
Wieskamp is the highest ranked recruit in Iowa basketball history, and he’s displayed why in his senior year. He leads the state in scoring at 34.8 points per game, while shooting 57 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
On the other hand, Carton is averaging 24.6 points per contest and has emerged as one of the top point guards in the 2019 class. Carton told the Des Moines Register last week that along with the Hawkeyes, six other schools stand out in his recruiting: Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Marquette, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
In one of the most highly touted matchups in Iowa high-school basketball this year, a few things about Wieskamp’s and Carton’s games caught our attention, so let’s take a closer look.
Wieskamp’s trademark skill is his perimeter shooting, which was put on full display as he sank eight 3-pointers against Bettendorf, including five in the second quarter.
He’s considered to be one of the best perimeter scorers nationally in the 2018 class, and he has developed his inside game to the point where he could beat you with his jump shot or around the basket.
Throughout the game, the Bulldogs ran a box-and-one to limit Wieskamp’s touches, and they often ran double-teams on him to force the ball out of his hands. Bettendorf ran a pack-it-in zone, forcing Muscatine to beat it from the perimeter. A vast majority of Wieskamp’s catches were around 5 feet behind the arc, and he was able to adjust and either beat his defender off the bounce for a jumper or rise from NBA range and connect.
While Wieskamp’s numbers are eye-popping, let’s not forget how large a role he plays for his team.
Wieskamp scored the first 31 points for the Muskies on Feb. 2 and finished with 54 of his team’s 64 points. He out-scored Bettendorf. He’s the focal point of every opponent he goes up against, and it’s mind-boggling to think he puts up stats like these when being double-teamed or even triple-teamed.
It’s highly doubtful whether Wieskamp will put up the similar numbers at the next level, but he’ll compete for the starting shooting-guard spot from Day 1 and will provide a complementary scoring boost in the backcourt to go along with point guard Jordan Bohannon.
A true point guard, Carton is at his best when he’s in transition. On Feb. 2, though, the game was played at a relatively slow pace for the most part, and the Muskies dropped back in a 2-3 zone, forcing Bettendorf to beat them from outside.
Because of the slow pace, Carton was limited in what he could do and had to do most of his damage in the half court, not on the break. Carton can make things happen in the pick and roll because he keeps his eyes up, and can attack the defender off the bounce, or find his teammate cutting to the basket.
He also hit a handful of 3s in the contest, but it’s evident that perimeter shooting is not his strong suit. What I liked most about Carton is his tenacity and willingness to get to the rim. High-school players often like to stand out on the perimeter and dribble around to look pretty. Carton is always in attack mode, meaning he can get to the basket when he wants and has the necessary strength for someone of his height to finish around the bucket over tall defenders.
With Patrick McCaffery already committed to the Black and Gold, Carton is the Iowa coaching staff’s No. 1 target in the 2019 class. Though Hawkeye fans would love to see Carton pull the trigger on coming to Iowa City as soon as possible, there’s still a long way to go in his recruitment. If Carton has a big summer, as he did last year, don’t be surprised to see the blueblood schools starting to make their way to Bettendorf.