Joe Wieskamp says the pressure he’s dealt with in high school will prepare him for freshman year success.
MUSCATINE, Ia. — Joe Wieskamp has been a golden boy of Iowa high school basketball since the summer before his sophomore year at Muscatine, when he committed to the Hawkeyes. That season, he led all sophomores with 21.6 points per game that year. He followed that up with a state-best 30.4 points per game as a junior.
Even on a stacked roster, he'd be item No. 1 on opponents' scouting reports. But the 6-foot-6 guard/forward doesn't play for a team that's loaded with college talent like the Iowa City Wests of the world.
So, most nights, he's item Nos. 1-5.
And he still dominates.
All this is meant to say that Wieskamp, who signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Hawkeyes on Wednesday, is used to the attention — used to the constant pressure of being "the guy" and living up to hype in a state that expects so much from him, both now and in the future.
That's why you should expect an immediate and significant role for Wieskamp in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"It’s just started early for me," Wieskamp said Wedneday after signing to join Kentucky high schooler C.J. Fredrick as official parts of Iowa's 2018 class. "A lot of guys don't get that pressure until they’re in college, because a lot of the local community, the Hawkeye fans, don’t really know them too well, so they’re not getting that pressure until they’re there. But, for me, I’ve gotten a head start. When I get there, I don’t think it’ll change too much."
"I think the big reason he’s ready is he's so well-balanced, physically and mentally," Muscatine head coach Gary Belger said earlier this week. "Physically, I’m talking about his ability to drive, his ability to pull up — he’s got very good balance. His head’s still when he takes his shot, he’s not moving all over, he doesn't force jump shots.
"And same point mentally. He’s got a good disposition, he’s a good Christian, he treats people the right way. You know, I always find the kids that are that way, good things happen to him."
In this sense, Wieskamp is a lot like Hawkeye sophomore Jordan Bohannon — another Iowa golden boy who immediately translated high school triumph to the college floor.
Bohannon was named Iowa's Mr. Basketball after three dominant seasons with Linn-Mar. He credits much of his early college success to enduring the same type of pressure-cooker atmosphere Wieskamp faces, playing in front of opposing student sections that hate him today and will love him next year.
"There were days in practice where I’d always tell the guy guarding me to foul me as much as possible," Bohannon told HawkCentral, "or do whatever they can to not let me get the ball so I could get prepared for the future to come."
Patrick McCaffery, Iowa's first 2019 recruit and one of the prominent faces of the program's youth movement, sees a lot of Bohannon in Wieskamp, too.
"Both shoot the cover off the ball, and they both have a swagger — but not, like, cocky," he said. "They’re confident, but they’re not overly confident like some other people. They’re not afraid to take the last shot. Jordan’s fearless, and Joe’s pretty much the same way. They're both a lot better than how they look. Looks are pretty deceptive."
Rivals ranks Wieskamp, a consensus four-star prospect, 40th in the Class of 2018. 247Sports pegs him at No. 42. He's the highest-rated Hawkeyes recruit since Rivals began ranking athletes in 2003. (Patrick McCaffery will likely break this mark next year.)
He runs through high school competition as the primary ball-handler for the Muskies. But he flashes versatility much more with his AAU team, the Iowa Barnstormers. He's an elite shooter. He can beat you off the dribble going left or right. He comes off screens with ease, and he's undoubtedly the best finisher in Iowa.
So, beyond his mental capacity for college success in his home state, he's certainly physically ready, too.
"He’s confident. He’s battle-tested. He’s proven he can play against the best of the best from around the country," Rivals national analyst Eric Bossi said. "He’s got great size for the Big Ten. There’s nowhere where you look at him — at least for me — and say, 'Oh, OK: This jumps out at me as something that could hold him back.'
"I think, in terms of a swing guy, a shooting guard/small forward type coming on campus, it’d be hard for Iowa to find a guy who’s going to be much more ready to go when he gets on campus."
Wieskamp is also doing his best to recruit 2019 point guard D.J. Carton of Bettendorf. HawkCentral asked Wieskamp about Carton back at the Prime Time League, and he didn't know much about him — not too many people did at that point.
But he certainly knows who the rapidly rising four-star prospect is now, and he's doing everything he can to make him a Hawkeye.
"It's impressive. Obviously, he put a lot of work in this summer and this offseason," Wieskamp said. "To see him blow up, it's great for me. And we're trying to get him."
Muscatine plays Bettendorf twice this year. Those games might be kind of fun.
"Yeah," Wieskamp said with a smile. "For sure."
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.