DES MOINES — Iowa’s top high school boys’ basketball players of 2018 and probably 2019 and 2020 played at Wells Fargo Arena in a three-hour period Tuesday.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have the ’18 and ’19 guys locked up. They need the 2020 guy. Everyone does.
That’s Xavier Foster, a 6-foot-11 sophomore who had 18 points in Oskaloosa’s 63-47 Class 3A state tournament quarterfinal win over Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
“From 9th grade to 10th grade I’ve grown four inches,” Foster said after the game. “I don’t know if I’m going to stop anytime soon. I’m hoping not.”
If he keeps growing, what hath Osky wrought? Foster can run, has good hands, and shows solid defensive instincts. One of his three blocked shots was smacked into where the Sergeant Bluff-Luton band was seated. That was at least 30 feet from the baseline.
“Defense,” Foster immediately replied when asked to name his favorite thing to do on a basketball court. College coaches may faint with giddiness upon reading that.
Iowa and Iowa State offered Foster a scholarship when he was a ninth-grader. Hawkeyes Coach Fran McCaffery made his offer after the first time he saw Foster work out in person. Creighton and Texas A&M have followed suit, and many more are sure to follow.
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What happened on the floor here Tuesday only made Foster more attractive to coaches. He swished 4 of 5 3-pointers after sinking 17 3s over the Indians’ first 24 games.
“Coach always tells me if I have room, pull it,” Foster said. “They never picked me up after that (first 3-pointer he made), so I kept pulling it.”
His offensive skill set has a ways to go, understandably. There’s time to change that. He weighs 208 pounds, obviously slender for his height. There’s time to modify that.
The top Iowa preps of the classes of 2018 and 2019 are senior Joe Wieskamp of Muscatine and junior Patrick McCaffery of Iowa City West. Their teams met in a 4A quarterfinal Tuesday night. West won, as expected, 62-50, after leading by just 38-37 at the end of the third quarter.
The 6-6 Wieskamp scored just two points in the first 12 minutes. His jumper was off. He missed all four of his 3-pointers after making 60 this season.
“I missed a couple of shots early,” Wieskamp said. “I thought I did a good job attacking the basket and finishing. But at the next level I’ve got to be a multiple-way player.”
Oh, Wieskamp was still terrific. He scored 29 points, including 11 in a third quarter in which he drove around and through seemingly all five Trojans on the court for scores on five occasions.
“That’s my guy,” Patrick McCaffery said. “I love Joe. We’ve been texting back and forth ever since we found out we were going to play against each other.”
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Asked what he thinks Wieskamp will become for the Hawkeyes team coached by his father, Fran McCaffery, Patrick said “A star. An All-Big Ten player. First-team All-Big Ten.”
That’s a whole lot to put on a high school senior and future college teammate.
“It’s nothing he can’t handle,” McCaffery said.
The 6-8 McCaffery had six points after three quarters. Then he asserted himself when the Trojans needed it the most, playing his typical smooth, smart ball.
“Last year in the first round he didn’t do much (three points, five fouls),” said Steve Bergman, the coach of the West team seeking a repeat state title.
“He had a better game (tonight). He started a little shaky. We just tried to get him to be just a little more powerful finishing, try to finish a little better.
McCaffery did exactly that, and also knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter as the Trojans started jetting away.
“He’s a great player, a great person,” Wieskamp said. “He’s on a great team with a great coach. I hope they go on and win this all.”
He should want Fran McCaffery to win them all in in-state recruiting, too. Getting son Patrick was a cinch. Wieskamp, who lives 35 miles from Carver-Hawkeye Arena, committed to Iowa as a ninth-grader.
Whether Foster would be the best catch of all is just a guess now, but seldom do such big fish swim in Iowa’s relatively small pond.
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