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Joe Wieskamp could be thinking about the first time he's announced in the starting lineup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said could take place in his freshman season.

Or perhaps the Muscatine standout could be preoccupied with thoughts of his first trip to Hilton Coliseum to face in-state rival Iowa State. 

He could even be looking ahead to potentially playing on the biggest stage amateur basketball has to offer in the NCAA tournament someday.

All of those things and, perhaps more, are possibly on the horizon for Wieskamp, the consensus top 60 national recruit who signed with Iowa earlier this month.

Instead, all he can think about is Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Specifically, how can he lead the Muscatine boys basketball team to its first state tournament appearance since 2002.

“I think we need to start early,” Wieskamp said. "The first 15 games are the ones that matter, so we have to win as many as possible to get a good seed in our district. That way we can set a path for ourselves and not have to play one of the powerhouses to make it to the tournament.”

Wieskamp has proven to be unique in that most highly touted basketball recruits change schools multiple times before ever heading to college.

Ten prospects ranked ahead of Wieskamp in the 2018 class are currently enrolled at boarding schools that are sport-training destinations.

And a majority of the other players attend high school in major cities.

“It’s tough not to think about,” Wieskamp said. “I’ve been recruited to go to some of those academies. But at the end of the day, I’ve been playing with these seniors since third grade.

“They’ve been my best friends since the beginning, so I wanted to go out with them.”

Even so, Wieskamp always quickly shot down any rumor of him transferring and never considered leaving Muscatine. In that regard, Wieskamp’s coach said that makes him different than most basketball players at all levels.

“He’s a throwback,” Muscatine coach Gary Belger said. “He’s a 1970s and 1980s player with great talent, a marvelous mind and a totally unselfish attitude.”

In fact, Wieskamp is so unselfish that he was not aware that he’s on the cusp of surpassing former Davenport North star Ricky Davis as the Mississippi Athletic Conference’s all-time leading scorer.

“I didn’t even know until like two days ago,” Wieskamp said. "I was like, 'Oh, I guess I’m going to break that (record) too.'"

Davis scored 1,619 points at North. Wieskamp is sitting at 1,573 points going into Friday's opener at Washington.

In addition to shattering the Muscatine school record for scoring long ago, he almost certainly will become the third boys basketball player to reach 2,000 points in Iowa’s Class 4A. 

Wieskamp needs to average 28.2 points per game to catch Jeff Horner, who totaled 2,194 points, for the most points by an Iowa 4A player. The Muskie standout averaged 30.4 points per game as a junior.

“I’ve been a part of MAC coaching in some capacity for 13 years and there’s been some outstanding basketball players,” Bettendorf coach Curtis Clark said. “But I can’t think of anybody better than Joe.”

Clark has seen that first hand.

Wieskamp torched the Bulldogs for 31 points, six rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals in a 57-51 Muskie win last season.

That came a couple of weeks after Clark felt his team did a good job on Wieskamp in the first matchup holding him to 15 points and nine rebounds.

“When we went to their place, I thought we played just as well as the first time and he still scored around 30 on us,” Clark said. “I told Suni Lane, who was guarding Joe, that I could only remember two shots where I thought we should have guarded him better.”

Clark has racked his brain and sifted through film in search of a plan to slow Wieskamp, but he doesn’t believe one exists.

It is that sort of attention, being the center of every team’s scouting report and the face of Iowa high school basketball for the past two seasons, that’s led to his growth as a player and person.

“It’s helped, both mentally and physically,” Wieskamp said. “Just being able to prepare for those situations, face different guys and game plans and seeing what they throw at me so I can be prepared for whatever happens.

“I think it’s kept me humble, knowing I’m one of the main guys in the state of Iowa, knowing a lot of people are looking up to me and looking at the way I act. I’m just trying to be a good example and, at the end of the day, stay where I’m at. I don’t want those other guys to catch me.”

However, Wieskamp has already proven plenty on the high school level and is more focused on finding a route to state instead of individual accolades.

The normally reserved senior spends more time these days browsing YouTube for motivational speeches in an attempt at becoming a better leader, something he’s done more by example than vocally the last couple of seasons.

His increased efforts in that department have not gone unnoticed by Belger, although he believes Wieskamp will have to step up even more as the Muskies’ unquestioned leader.

“I’d say the biggest thing is just being a more vocal leader,” Wieskamp said. “This year we have a lot of young guys and a lot of guys with not very much varsity experience, so I have to be a lot more vocal in telling them what to do.”

If stepping outside of his comfort zone as a more vocal leader turns into a state appearance for Muscatine, it’d all be worth it for Wieskamp.

After all, even with a potentially promising college basketball career on the horizon, all he can think about is how much a storybook ending for the Muskies and the community that’s supported him his entire life would mean.

“It would mean the world,” Wieskamp said. “That’s the biggest thing I’ve been thinking about for the past four years, to go out with my team and all of these guys I’ve been playing with forever and bring our community to the state tournament. It would be kind of surreal.”

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