Recruiting is mostly about building relationships over time.
Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery accomplished that with high school senior-to-be point guard Mike Gesell and now it’s paid dividends with Gesell picking the Hawkeyes on Monday.
“On my visit there it just really felt right,” Gesell said Monday morning after making his verbal commitment. “I’ve had plenty of talks with coach McCaffery and he really has a vision for the program. And I really think starting this year it’s going to be turned around.”
Gesell, who is from South Sioux City, Neb., said he also likes the fact that McCaffery played point guard at the Division I level, first at Wake Forest and then for his final three seasons at the University of Pennsylvania.
“A lot of times he was talking about his visions for the team and his vision for me as a player,” Gesell said of McCaffery, who is entering his second season as the Iowa head coach. “He talked about how he’s going to maximize my potential and how he played point guard so he knows how to do that.”
Gesell picked Iowa over Stanford. He also had offers from Creighton, Nebraska and several other Division I schools including Utah, Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Drake.
Gesell said turning down a chance to earn a degree from Stanford was tough, but he felt Iowa was a better fit for him on and off the court.
“There are pros and cons to everything,” Gesell said. “I just felt that I wanted to go to Iowa.
“Stanford is a very good opportunity and I also really like their coaching staff there as well. But in the end, I felt it was right to go to Iowa and I don’t have any regrets about making my decision.”
The 6-foot-1 Gesell is ranked as a four-star recruit by Scout.com and the 17th best player nationally at his position. He also has led his high school team to consecutive state titles and was named the Nebraska player of the year last season as a junior.
“He’ got a good IQ,” said Gesell’s AAU coach, Hank Huddleson. “He can score.
“The only difference from high school to college will be that he has the ability to score which will make him very good at the end of shots clocks in college.”
Huddleson said Gesell’s strengths are more than just mental.
“He is more athletic than people think,” Huddleson said.
Iowa fans should hope that Gesell knows how to recruit because he’s trying hard to get 7-0 center Adam Woodbury to follow him to Iowa.
Woodbury plays on the same AAU team with Gesell has had Iowa among his top schools for about two years.
“I’m definitely going to be trying to get him,” Gesell said of Woodbury, who is entering his senior year at Sioux City East. “It’s a no-brainer to me. He’s a very good player and I’m also very good friends with him. I’ve already been talking to him a little.
“But at the same time, I’m not going to pressure him too much. I know how grueling the process can be. And I know it’s his decision at the end. But at the same time, I want to play with him in college. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
Gesell is the second member of the 2012 high school senior class to commit to Iowa. The other is 6-10 forward Kyle Meyer from Alpharetta, Ga. Meyer committed to Iowa in March.
Gesell is eager to help rebuild the Iowa program, which is coming off four consecutive losing seasons. He should have a chance to contribute immediately as a freshman in the 2012-13 season because Iowa senior-to-be Bryce Cartwright will have used up his eligibility by then.
Cartwright is the only true point guard Iowa has on scholarship heading into this coming season.
“They definitely have some players there now and they’ll be some good players coming in,” Gesell said. “I’m happy to be a part of it, and I’ll definitely be working hard and contributing to everything. And we’re definitely going to be turning this around.”
Gesell credits the Iowa fans, especially those in and around his hometown, for helping to make his decision.
“I’ll walk around and about every time I go out to eat someone will walk up to me and say `I can’t wait to see you in a Hawkeye uniform or stuff life that,” Gesell said. “And it just gets me real excited for the fan support and just to be a part of the special things going on inside Carver.”
Gesell said he’s relieved to have the recruiting process behind him. He is expected to make his decision official in November when he signs a national letter of intent.
“People are always saying this is going to be one off the biggest decisions in my life,” Gesell said. “.And it feels great to know that this is what I want to do.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball