Patrick McCaffery was a junior at Iowa City West three years ago when he made these predictions about Muscatine High senior Joe Wieskamp:
“A star. An All-Big Ten player. First-team All-Big Ten.”
That was immediately after McCaffery’s West team defeated Wieskamp’s Muskies 62-50 in a boys’ basketball Class 4A state tournament quarterfinal. Both were committed to play for McCaffery’s father, Fran McCaffery, at Iowa.
Wieskamp had two points through the first 12 minutes of that game. He finished with 29.
Here we are three winters later, and Fran McCaffery said this Tuesday:
“Wieskamp is a guy that you sort of expect him to be at that all-conference level, and that’s what he’s doing.”
Wieskamp was named the Big Ten men’s basketball Player of the Week Monday after sterling performances in Iowa wins over Rutgers and Michigan State. First-team All-Big Ten may be out of reach given the number of star players in the conference. Some wonderful players will be second-team.
Nonetheless, Patrick McCaffery’s 2018 prognostication of Wieskamp becoming “a star” has fit like a shooting sleeve lately.
“I think this whole season he’s taken it up a level,” Iowa center and surefire first-team All-Big Ten player Luka Garza said Tuesday, “especially recently.
“His ability to be consistent, every game you’re seeing his mentality be the same. And that’s awesome in terms of his growth. He’s going out there and he’s doing his thing, he’s locked in and he’s in the moment.”
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You could get snowed under by an avalanche of Wieskamp’s recent impressive numbers. A condensed version:
He has scored 16 or more points in eight of the last nine games. In that time, he has made 31 of 51 3-pointers for 60.8 percent, and was 10-of-14 over the last two games.
In the last four games, Wieskamp averaged 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. Luka Garza, the nation’s leading scorer and team’s leading rebounder, averaged 16.0 and 6.8 in that stretch, respectively.
Wieskamp has seized opportunities created by double-teams to Garza.
“You’ve got to pick your poison,” Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said about how to defend Iowa after his team got walloped 88-58 by the Hawkeyes last Saturday in East Lansing. Wieskamp was toxic to the Spartans.
It isn’t that he hadn’t established himself as an excellent college player before 2021. Wieskamp averaged 14.0 points and 6.1 rebounds last season, compared to the slight rises of 15.4 and 6.7 this season. But 20.8 and 8.8 over the last four games is a considerable jump.
“He’s been a terrific player from the day he showed up on campus,” Fran McCaffery said. “But he just keeps growing. You see it in his confidence, his physicality.
“He’s just making big shot after big shot. His defense, I think, has really taken a huge step. He’s making steals and he’s always been a phenomenal rebounder. And you don’t always get that from your small forward position, and I’ve been playing him a lot at 2-guard with CJ (Fredrick) out. He’s still rebounding at a very high level.”
The saga of Wieskamp and the No. 11 Hawkeyes continues Thursday when they play at No. 21 Wisconsin at 6 p.m.
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