Bobby La Gesse/Land of 10
Iowa junior Ahmad Wagner is committed to playing basketball for the Hawkeyes although many people think football may be his best sport.

Ahmad Wagner, Iowa’s best potential dual-sport athlete, plays basketball right now

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QUESTION: Which athlete could excel in multiple high-profile sports at Iowa?

ANSWER: That’s an easy answer, and it’s junior forward Ahmad Wagner. On the men’s basketball team, Wagner has started six of 10 games this year and averages 3.0 points and 2.9 rebounds a game. At 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds, Wagner is tough, physical and athletic. But basketball might be his second-best sport.

Wagner played only one year of high school football and had football scouts salivating. Kentucky offered him a football scholarship as a wide receiver. Ohio State would have offered if he wavered on his basketball commitment to Iowa.

In the 2014 Ohio Division I championship game, Wagner caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and later returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score for Huber Heights Wayne High School. Wagner finished the title game with 5 catches for 55 yards and also had 109 return yards in  31-21 loss to Lakewood St. Edward.

Wagner caught 40 passes for 639 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season as a senior. He was named first-team all-state his senior year. Wagner also anchored his school’s 4×100 relay squad to a fourth-place finish his senior year.

“Ahmad should play football,” said Iowa football center James Daniels, who also played high school football in Ohio. “He played Division I in Ohio. He was like first-team all-state. In the state championship game, he [returned a kickoff for a touchdown] and he scored another touchdown. If he wants to come to football, I welcome him.”

I caught up with Wagner at basketball media day and asked about football. He laughed off any possible switch to football.  

“I’m going to stick to basketball for now,” Wagner said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Iowa football recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell once in a while responds to Wagner on Twitter. Once it was to ask about a former high school teammate. Another it was to bring up football.

If he moved over to football Wagner would project to wide receiver. Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented. In fact, the two best NFL tight ends of the last 20 years  — Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates — both played basketball in college at California and Kent State, respectively.

“You never know,” Wagner said when asked about shifting to football when his Iowa basketball career concludes. “A couple football players keep asking, but I’m committed to this basketball team right now and being successful here.

“A lot of people have done it. It’s not impossible.”

If Wagner shifted to football, he’s best receiver on the football team and an NFL prospect. But basketball is his first love, and he plans to keep playing it at Iowa.

 

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