Joe Wieskamp Purdue 3 H

Joe Wieskamp

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Big Ten teams took a hands-on approach when it came

to defending Joe Wieskamp late last season.

When the Hawkeye guard/forward tried to cross the lane in Iowa’s

motion offense, there was no freedom of movement. He got held, pushed

and bodied up.

Over the final six games of the season, Wieskamp made just one of

seven shots from the field and scored two points at Minnesota. He made

just one field goal and finished with four points at Michigan State. And

he had two field goals and scored only seven points at Illinois.

This from a player who has scored in double figures in 45 of the 66

games he’s played at Iowa.

The junior from Muscatine reflected on how the season ended, and took

steps to make sure he doesn’t get bullied again in 2020-21. A stronger

and smarter Wieskamp will be inside uniform No. 10 this season.

“I just tried to focus on my body, physically and mentally,” said

Wieskamp, who joined Aaron White as the only two players in Iowa

history to total more than 800 points, 350 rebounds, 75 assists, 50

steals and 25 blocks through two seasons.

Wieskamp said he’s added a few pounds to his 6-foot 6-inch frame. But

he’s concentrated more on transforming that weight to muscle to deal

with the physical nature of Big Ten play.

“Gaining strength is going to allow me to be more physical on those

drives (to the basket),” Wieskamp said. “And I’ll be able to deal with the

contact and having them up in my space.”

He also concentrated on becoming a smarter player.

“I watched a lot of film during this off-season,” Wieskamp said. “I just

need to be smarter in finding ways (to get free). Maybe I fake a back cut

and come off a screen, and do different things like that. I worked on

different ways to create separation from my defender.”

What Wieskamp saw on the tapes he watched over the summer is what

he expected to see.

“I’m just looking forward to learning from those tapes and being better

this season,” he said.

Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Wieskamp will be better suited to

handle physical play this season.

“The thing about Joe, he’s an incredibly hard worker and he’s smart,”

McCaffery said. “What you’re going to see now is a guy as a junior who

started for two years, been a really good player not only in our league

but nationally, and he’s just going to be better. He’s stronger. He’s really

worked on his ball handling, his attacking the basket, his shooting. He’s

just going to be a really aggressive offensive player in his junior year,

and now he’s physically ready to be one of the elite players in the

country.”

That bodes well for an Iowa team that was ranked fifth in the preseason

Associated Press poll. A poll that had six other Big Ten teams in the Top

25.

Luka Garza, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and a top contender

for National Player of the Year, has received a majority of the attention

leading into this season.

But it’s not a one-man team. And Wieskamp has a respected reputation.

He was one of 10 players selected for the preseason all-Big Ten team.

Garza, a unanimous pick, has witnessed the evolution of Wieskamp’s

game over the past two seasons.

“I think last year you saw what he could do,” Garza said of Wieskamp,

who cracked the 20-point plateau six times including a 30-point game

against Nebraska. “I’ve seen his mindset continue to improve. I think

he’s worked so hard over the summer in the weight room, on the court

and to be mentally prepared for this year and the challenge ahead.”

In Wieskamp, Garza and senior Jordan Bohannon, who returned for a

redshirt senior season after hip surgery Dec. 19, Iowa has a proven

scoring trio that could take this team a long way.

Wieskamp needs just 177 points to give this team a trio of 1,000-point

scorers. Garza has 1,559 points, while Bohannon has 1,310 and is

already the most prolific three-point scorer in Iowa history.

“Having Jordan back creates another extremely deep threat from 3,”

Wieskamp said. “His range is going to allow more opportunities for all of

us. Joe Toussaint is a great player, but I don’t think teams necessarily

respected his 3-point shot (last season). So having Jordan out there is

going to create a new dimension to our team and allow more spacing for

all of us.”

Wieskamp made himself eligible for the NBA Draft after his freshman

season, but returned. He didn’t enter the draft after the 2019-20 season.

Garza did enter the draft after his breakout junior campaign, but also

elected to return. And Bohannon could have decided not to return for

his redshirt campaign. They bring 255 combined starts with them into

2020-21.

They all came back with the same goal in mind – make this an

unforgettable season.

“We have a lot of talented guys in this group,” Wieskamp said. “We’re

looking forward to the opportunity, and trying to make the most of it

and do something special for this Iowa team.”

Learning to share the ball on a deep team will require unselfish play

across the board.

“We have a lot of scoring threats on our team,” Wieskamp said. “But we

have a lot of unselfish guys. At the end of the day everyone wants to

score. But it’s about making the right basketball play. If we have an open

shot, we’re going to take it. If not, we’re going to look for drives and

kicks because we have shooters all over the floor. Obviously we can feed

Luka and he can score at will. It’s about having great ball movement

inside and out, and making the extra pass when it’s there.”

With a non-conference schedule that includes Gonzaga and North

Carolina and a rugged Big Ten slate to follow, it won’t be an easy

journey.

“Preseason rankings don’t mean anything,” Wieskamp said. “We have to

come out and prove it, night in and night out.”