Iowa basketball: Saying 'the future is bright,' Joe Wieskamp returns for sophomore season
Joe Wieskamp has successfully given Iowa basketball fans a mostly expected, but still relieving, bit of much-needed good news.
He’s coming back for his sophomore year with the Hawkeyes.
Wieskamp announced his return through the university early Wednesday afternoon.
Considering the recent roster attrition and his skill set, the 6-foot-6 wing player from Muscatine has every chance to be the Hawkeyes' star player. On Tuesday, three-year starting point guard Jordan Bohannon told the Des Moines Register that he is uncertain about playing next season following surgery on his right hip.
... Hello, Joe.
MORE ON BOHANNON: How the Hawkeyes might look if he redshirts
Wieskamp, in announcing in mid-April his intent to test the NBA Draft process, wanted to gather more information about what he needed to take his game to the next level. He was not invited to the NBA Scouting Combine.
"I learned a lot of valuable information going through the NBA Draft process that will help me continue to grow now, and in the future when I decide to take that next step," Wieskamp said in a statement. "But for now, my focus is helping this Iowa team be the best that we can be. The future is bright! Go Hawks!”
That test-the-waters approach is the same one Peter Jok took before returning for the senior season in 2016-17. He became a first-team all-Big Ten Conference player and led the league in scoring.
Tyler Cook also gathered NBA information before returning in 2018-19 to become a second-team all-Big Ten pick as a junior.
Like those two, Wieskamp comes back to school with the potential to be Iowa’s leading scorer. He averaged 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in making the five-player all-Big Ten freshman team. He will no doubt be given even more control of the Hawkeyes’ offense by coach Fran McCaffery, who had Cook (pro career) and Isaiah Moss (transfer to Arkansas) leave the program early even before the Bohannon bombshell.
Wieskamp’s efficiency as a freshman proved he was already the team's best all-around player. He tied for second on the team in steals (30) while hitting 42.4% of his 3-point attempts (59 out of 139) to rank second in the Big Ten. He scored 15 or more points 10 times during Iowa’s 23-12 season, and his 3-pointer at the buzzer at Rutgers delivered a thrilling win in mid-February.
His return is exciting news for the Hawkeyes. Wieskamp and center Luka Garza now become the centerpieces of the 2019-20 roster, if Bohannon sits out this season. But what about Wieskamp in 2020-21?
That development certainly will be significant to follow, especially considering McCaffery told the Register in an interview last week week that he didn't expect Wieskamp to stay at Iowa for four years.
"I always say, you can’t recruit a guy like Tyler Cook or Joe Wieskamp and talk about the NBA in the recruiting process, and then try to limit their opportunities for the NBA while they’re here," McCaffery said. "You’ve got to be all-in on the kid and his future. If he ends up leaving next year or the year after … he’ll go at the right time. He’ll go when the time is right. And he’ll make it."
In a statement accompanying Wieskamp's announcement, McCaffery was naturally thrilled to have one of his best players returning.
"Joe is a valuable member of our team, on and off the court," the 10th-year coach said, "and we look forward to him being a leader for us next season."