IOWA CITY — It only took a few minutes for the veterans on the Iowa basketball team to see how Joe Wieskamp was going to fit in as a member of the Hawkeyes.
Jordan Bohannon saw it right away. Tyler Cook also saw it, albeit from a slightly different angle.
"Tyler won’t be happy I said this," Bohannon cautioned, "but in the very first open gym, Joe came down and dunked right on Tyler. I was like ‘Whoa, this kid might be for real.’ He’s fit in really well."
That’s not really a surprise. After all, Wieskamp became the all-time leading scorer in Iowa Class 4A as a senior at Muscatine last winter. He arrives as the highest rated Hawkeye recruit of the Fran McCaffery era.
But chances are, no one expected a brand new freshman to come out of the blocks hammering down a dunk in the face of a player three inches taller who came very close to jumping into the NBA draft this spring.
Wieskamp’s first month on campus has been filled with defensive drills, individual workouts and pickup games. He already is enrolled in a few classes and said he feels very much at home.
It helps that he committed to the Hawkeyes about three years ago and has attended innumerable games and practices since then.
"It’s all pretty much what I expected," he said.
He did admit there are some things he’ll need to adjust to as he embarks on his college career. He’s accustomed to being the focal point of the offense — he scored 56 percent of Muscatine’s points last season and scored the Muskies’ first 31 points in one game — but he’ll need to share the ball a little more than that in the Big Ten.
"It’ll be a little different mindset going into the game, but I’ll do everything I can to help the team win," he said. "I’ll have to start doing some smaller stuff, locking in on defense, rebounds and just pushing and running. Obviously, I’m not going to have that load on me knowing I’m going to have to score so much so I can just go out there and play and have fun."
He said it will be refreshing to only be defended by one player most of the time. Wieskamp said he didn’t think that has happened since his freshman year of high school.
"Obviously, they’re going to be a lot stronger and more athletic, but that’ll be nice," he said.
He also will need to deal with a considerable amount of hype that will accompany his arrival in the college game. He has a solution for that: He plans to ignore it.
"Obviously, I know the pressure’s there, but I'll try to zone it out and not worry about it," Wieskamp said. "I know if I go in and do what I know I can do, I’ll be just fine."
The 6-foot-6 freshman is slated to play mostly small forward and shooting guard with the Hawkeyes and knows he still has plenty to learn.
He figures he needs a lot of work on defense and also needs to get stronger, something he said could be "an ongoing struggle."
"Moving forward, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort in the weight room, but I think it’s slowly going to happen," he added. "I’ve been in the weight room four times a week, and it’s definitely helping."
Needless to say, his new teammates like what they’ve seen and not just from a physical standpoint.
"A lot of people talk about his skill set and how versatile he is, he can shoot and score and do everything," said Nicholas Baer, the Hawkeyes’ only senior. "What I’ve been impressed with is his mental aspect to the game, how he’s been able to pick up a lot of our concepts so quickly, which I think is really important for him because, with his skill level, the sky’s the limit for that guy."
Cook echoed those thoughts, noting that the Hawkeyes’ other incoming freshman recruit, 6-4 C.J. Fredrick, is cut from a similar mold.
"Those are two super-smart guys," Cook said. "I think we’ve only been working out for about a month now, and they’ve picked everything up since the first day it was taught. Two very smart guys, two very smart players. Their transition has been pretty much seamless."