IOWA CITY, Iowa — In the shadow of a heartbreaking 96-93 defeat to No. 4 Michigan State on Tuesday, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery cracked a smile in his postgame news conference.
The smile wasn’t indicative of the loss; it was all about an incoming recruit who has broken one of the state’s most hallowed high school basketball marks.
Muscatine (Iowa) senior Joe Wieskamp shattered the state’s Class 4A points record with a 44-point effort on Tuesday night. That brought the 6-foot-6 shooting guard to 2,208 career points to pass former Iowa Hawkeyes guard Jeff Horner, who scored 2,194 points in his four-year career at Mason City.
Wieskamp, a 4-star recruit, committed to Iowa as a high school freshman. He’s now one of the best players in state history.
“I’ve watched Joe since he was in fifth grade,” McCaffery said. “I’ve just watched him grow up. Really an amazing, amazing player. A lot of times when you think about guys, all-time state scoring record, that’s a lot of points. He’s hunting baskets. He’s a volume shooter.
“He is one of the most efficient guys you’ll ever see. I never saw a guy get 30 on 12 shots. He does it all summer. He does it in the spring. Shoots a high percentage. I mean, the other night he made eight 3s in the game I went to. He went for 54. Never hits the rim. It was a swish. Then he drives it, moves it. Really, really an incredibly efficient player.”
On offense, Wieskamp brings exactly what Iowa needs next year. Wieskamp can shoot at any range, which helps with spacing. He’s an unselfish, cerebral player who can move the basketball without forcing bad shots. He’s also full of intangibles that will make him a good teammate and tenacious competitor.
Iowa sophomore point guard Jordan Bohannon, who is one of the Big Ten’s top perimeter shooters, has nothing but appreciation for Wieskamp’s accomplishments. While Muscatine is located about 40 miles east of Iowa City, Bohannon played at Linn-Mar, which is about 35 miles north.
“He’s one of the top players in the country and every single game he’s been putting out,” Bohannon said. “He’s another local kid that wanted to be a Hawkeye ever since he grew up. Obviously you have that kind of mindset, you’re not going to get rattled by what everyone says because you worked your butt off to get to your dream school. That’s what he’s been thinking. He’s a hometown kid, and we can’t wait to have him.”
Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw described Wieskamp as analytical in the way he processes the game. Wieskamp’s intelligence also is instrumental in helping him reach the Class 4A record. Wieskamp carries a 4.0 grade-point-average.
“He’s one of the most efficient basketball players that I’ve seen,” Speraw said. “He gets a lot of results from the limited touches that he may have or the limited shots that he may take in the course of a game. That’s in large part because of the work ethic and the repetition he’s had throughout his career. He keeps getting better all the time.
“I think one thing people underappreciate about Joe is that for a high school kid and playing in a high-level summer circuit, he’s been a very good defender. He’s hard to score over with his length, he slides his feet very well. So that’s something I think that’s underappreciated about his game.”
In one of Iowa’s best basketball leagues, Wieskamp will earn his fourth first-team all-conference award in the next few weeks. Rivals ranks him as the 40th prospect in the 2018 class, while 247Sports rates Wieskamp No. 50. He averaged 30.4 points a game as a junior and currently puts up 34.6 points a contest.
At the national level, Wieskamp was a member of the Adidas US-Select Team and earned an all-tournament team selection at the NBPA Top 100. He was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2017 and is a shoo-in this year.
Bohannon never played Wieskamp in a high school game but knew his future teammate was special with a direct message last year.
“He sent a Twitter DM and asked me what I do for shooting workouts,” Bohannon said. “I knew right then and there he’s going to be a star. Not a lot of kids in high school will reach out to someone in college and really just pick their brain and that’s something he did. I knew he would excel at the next level.
But the local ties and recruiting acclaim, coupled with the Hawkeyes’ struggles, could send expectations for Wieskamp to an unhealthy level. If he doesn’t perform right away, Iowa’s passionate fan base unknowingly could apply pressure. It’s happened to previous in-state recruits.
Bohannon knows that all too well. His father, Gordy Bohannon, quarterbacked the Iowa football team to the 1981 Rose Bowl. Two of Bohannon’s older brothers played at Wisconsin while another played at Northern Iowa. Jordan Bohannon was the state Gatorade Player of the Year in 2016.
“You can see right now, his senior year, when he was going double-teamed, triple-teamed and he’s able to put up those numbers,” Bohannon said. “It says a lot about him and how he’s been able to work these past couple of years. Obviously we’re excited for him to get here next year.”
Speraw is confident the pressure won’t get to Wieskamp.
“I think he’s capable of handling anything,” Speraw said. “I think Joe’s very even keel he’s humble. He doesn’t get caught up in all that type of thing. He stays focused on the details that he’s got.”