As people filed into the Muscatine High School auditorium, a reporter joked with Joe Wieskamp that he needed to sign the paper and "get it over with already." The Muscatine standout agreed, joking that he might even have time for a game of PIG afterward.
Wieskamp has been a part of the Hawkeye family for a while, 883 days to be exact, as he verbally committed to play basketball for Fran McCaffery and the University of Iowa just after his freshman year of high school on June 9, 2015. But Wieskamp finally made it official Wednesday morning when he signed his letter National Letter of Intent at Muscatine High School flanked by his parents, Steve and Dana Wieskamp.
"It’s a great feeling," Joe Wieskamp said. "I’ve been committed for a while, so it’s a good feeling to make it official."
The 6-foor-6 wing was given a four-star composite rating by 247sports.com, ranking him No. 53 overall and the ninth best shooting guard in the class of 2018. Certainly, because of that, the exposure he gained playing the national AAU circuit with the Iowa Barnstormers, and summer accolades such as being named top 10 and NBAPA All-Star at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp, Wieskamp heard from some of the nation’s elite basketball programs.
"Sometimes it’s hard not to think about the bigger schools and the opportunities that could present themselves with that," he said.
Early commitments such as Wieskamp’s have become a rarity in college basketball recruiting, especially among elite high school prospects. But it’s clear the Muscatine native isn’t like most other highly rated recruits as he never once considered backing out of his verbal commitment to Iowa.
“I’ve always been a Hawk fan, a big coach McCaffery fan,” Wieskamp said. “He’s always been extremely supportive of me in helping my growth. Just staying loyal to the Hawkeyes and always wanting to go there has kept me (there).”
As a result, while other top recruits in the class of 2018 have spent the better part of the last two years taking official and unofficial visits to schools across the country, Wieskamp has had the opportunity to make Iowa City feel like home before he ever steps foot on campus as a student-athlete.
He took his official visit in September when the Iowa football team played host to Penn State, but he’s attended countless football games, including Iowa’s 55-24 thrashing of Ohio State last weekend, as well as basketball games and practices over the last few years.
“That’s probably the best part about it,” Wieskamp said. “Being there so early I was able to develop a relationship with the coaches and a lot of the former players.”
Expectations will certainly be high for Wieskamp from the moment he steps on campus, but that spotlight is nothing new for the Muscatine native. He's been one of the top players in the state the last few years so he's accustomed to the attention.
"I don't look at it as pressure on me," Wieskamp said. "I'm used to seeing a lot of difference defenses, double-teams, face guarding, stuff like that."
He averaged a state-best 30.4 points per game in his junior season, the highest scoring average since Casey Schlatter averaged 34.6 points per game for Iowa Falls-Alden in 2014. Also, he’s the highest rated recruit to sign with the Hawkeyes out of high school since Adam Woodbury in 2012, according to 247sports.com.
“It’s such a good fit,” said Muscatine coach Gary Belger, who has coached high school basketball in both Texas and Florida. “He could start for Iowa right now in my opinion, I really believe that. I’ve seen guys with more talent, but I haven’t seen anybody with the right package, mental and physical.
“That’s what makes him one of the best players in the country and that’s what’s going to make him a great player for Iowa.”