IOWA CITY — Four members of the University of Iowa basketball team received some sort of mention on the various All-Big Ten teams earlier this week.
Senior forward Jarrod Uthoff was a unanimous first-team choice, junior Peter Jok made the second team and seniors Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury were part of the honorable mention list.
The one starter who didn’t get anything just shrugged it off. No big deal.
But Anthony "Sapp" Clemmons admitted it will provide a bit of added motivation for him in these last few weeks of his college career.
"Always …" Clemmons said with a smile. "Just to know that you’ve been overlooked, to know the things you do are unnoticed. Just because it’s not noticed outside doesn’t mean it’s not noticed in our locker room. It doesn’t matter."
Clemmons, who will lead Iowa into a 1:30 p.m. game with Illinois today in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis, has been arguably the Hawkeyes’ steadiest player during the conference schedule.
He has scored in double figures in 10 of the past 13 games and has had multiple assists in 14 of the last 15. He has emerged as the team’s No. 3 scoring option (after Uthoff and Jok) and his ability to play either guard position has given head coach Fran McCaffery a rare luxury. When Gesell goes to the sidelines, McCaffery knows he still has an above-average point guard on the floor in Clemmons.
More than anything, though, the 6-foot-2 Clemmons has been a shutdown defender who can guard anyone from diminutive point guards to acrobatic forwards.
In two head-to-head battles with his boyhood buddy, Michigan State guard Bryn Forbes, Clemmons held his pal to a grand total of five points.
That’s the same Bryn Forbes who knocked down a Big Ten record 11 3-point field goals Saturday against Ohio State. In two games against Iowa, Forbes was 1 for 10 from the field, 0 for 7 from behind the arc.
Plenty of other high-profile guards have been contained this season by Gesell and Clemmons, both of whom deserved to be considered for the Big Ten's all-defensive team, according to McCaffery.
Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, a first-team All-Big Ten pick, went 9 for 31 from the field in two games against the Hawkeyes. Second-team selection Melo Trimble of Maryland was 2 for 7.
Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn, who will line up against the Hawkeyes today, really got Sapped. He was 2 for 13.
"I think he definitely should have been on the all-defensive team," Gesell said of his backcourt mate. "He’s one of the best defensive guards in the country. I think that’s one of the reasons my game has gotten so much better is just going against him every day in practice.
"He’s a guy that just does all the right things. He’s a very good player. Those honors … none of us really care that much about that, but it’s cool to be part of it. I just think he’s one of the best players in the country."
McCaffery said he had no problem with any of the players who were picked on the all-defensive team, including Uthoff. But he also thought Clemmons merited consideration.
"I would have liked to have seen him get some recognition because I think he deserves it, but I think the people that did get recognized also deserve it," McCaffery said.
Clemmons just shrugged.
"Things happen, things go unnoticed," he said. "Obviously I didn’t get it so it doesn’t matter to me. My job is to make sure we win games throughout the postseason. I’m going to do what it takes whether it’s on the defensive end or the offensive end or in leadership."
He said when the Big Ten honors were announced Monday, he immediately got text messages from Forbes, who made second-team All-Big Ten, and Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, another childhood pal who was the Big Ten's player of the year.
They also figured he got snubbed.
"They know what I’m capable of," Clemmons said. "I know what I’m capable of. My teammates know what I’m capable of and the coaches do, too. That’s all that matters."