Incoming Iowa Hawkeye Joe Wieskamp has been working at basketball like it's a full-time job
Joe Wieskamp was on the Iowa campus for freshman orientation Thursday.
Naturally, he made time to stop by the office of basketball coach Fran McCaffery and his staff. The sport has been Wieskamp’s priority throughout his Muscatine childhood. It’s become his single devotion throughout this spring.
Basketball is why Wieskamp committed to come to Iowa on June 9, 2015.
Three years later to the day, he will officially arrive in Iowa City, a 6-foot-6 wing player who has been preparing himself to excel at the college level as if it’s a full-time job.
“I’ve got nothing else going on, really,” Wieskamp said in a matter-of-fact tone when asked why he’s been working with personal trainers seven days a week since his record-setting high school career ended.
“I just enjoy getting better, seeing the growth every day.”
Wieskamp is the No. 56 player in the nation, according to the 247Sports' Composite. He is preparing to join a Hawkeye team coming off a 14-19 season and with a need for a starting wing player who can be an elite scorer and an above-average defender.
That’s why four days a week, he works out with a trainer in Muscatine. The other three, he heads to the gym of Jordan Delp in Moline, Illinois, where he can tangle with the likes of Nebraska forward Isaiah Roby and Montana State shooting guard Tyler Hall, both of whom were testing the NBA draft process this spring before ultimately returning to the college ranks.
“It’s a lot of fun working out with those guys because they’ve obviously been through a couple of years of college and are a lot more physically mature than I am. So it’s just cool to see where they’re at and where I want to be,” Wieskamp said. “It’s a lot more physicality in one-on-one drills.
“I like talking to them about going through the draft process and, obviously, that’s one of my goals, in the long run, is to go through that as well.”
Wieskamp uses the word “fun” liberally. It’s his adjective of choice when describing what he’s most looking forward to when moving to Iowa City for good next Saturday.
“The workouts are going to be fun,” Wieskamp said of joining his new teammates. “Being around those high-caliber guys and working out with them all the time. Because for me, in Muscatine, it’s a little bit hard — there’s not as many guys that want to go where I want to go.”
Wieskamp already has his Hawkeye number picked out: 10. He would have preferred to stick with the 21 he wore with the Muskies, but that number was retired 40 years ago in honor of former Iowa great Carl Cain.
“I just had to pick a different number, and that was my favorite one of my options,” Wieskamp said.
He hasn’t yet thought about what it will be like to run onto the Carver-Hawkeye Arena court wearing it. It’s been a dream of his for a long time, Wieskamp conceded. He’s sure it will be fun.
In the meantime, Wieskamp has been shooting hundreds of jump shots, becoming comfortable with the college 3-point line (he made 34.3 percent as a high school senior). He’s worked endlessly on being a stronger ball-handler, knowing drives to the basket will be met with much bigger obstacles this winter.
“Those guards are going to be a lot quicker,” Wieskamp said. “Their hands are going to get up in me, so you’ve got to be so much stronger with the ball and finish at the rim so much better because those guys are so big coming at you.”
Wieskamp thinks he’ll play exclusively on the wing at Iowa. McCaffery has said he believes his top incoming recruit is versatile enough to play power forward in a smaller lineup. That may not be as necessary now that junior starter Tyler Cook has declared he’ll be back in a Hawkeye uniform after going through his own period of NBA tryouts this spring.
Wieskamp doesn’t want to assume anything, though.
“I can’t wait to build some goals as a team and just see where I can fit in and hopefully help them out,” he said of his approach to this summer.
That will include playing in the Prime Time League in North Liberty and Waterloo the next two months — that is where some Hawkeye fans will get their first look at the leading scorer in Iowa Class 4A high school history.
Wieskamp isn’t concerned by how much hope some fans have invested in him.
“I just kind of zone that stuff out, just focus on myself and just know that if I continue to work like I have been, those expectations won’t really matter,” Wieskamp said.
“Work” being the operative word in that sentence. Wieskamp has been hard at it all his life, and especially this spring, waiting for this moment.