Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery’s sales pitch to Mike Gesell was simple.
No hidden agendas, no smoke and mirrors.
“He wanted me to come in and play the point,” said Gesell, a three-time all-stater and two-time Nebraska high school player of the year. “The spot is definitely up for the taking.”
Gesell signed with the Hawkeyes last fall. The spring signing period started on Wednesday and runs through May16.
Now, with Bryce Cartwright gone and guard Devyn Marble expected to move to his more natural position off the ball in 2012-13, Gesell has been given the keys to the Hawkeye team with permission to drive as fast as possible.
“I think I’ll fit well into the system,” Gesell said. “I’ve always liked playing an up-tempo style of game, and coach McCaffery really emphasizes pushing the ball and making it high scoring.”
The 6-foot-1 Gesell, who averaged 25.1 points and 7.4 assists at South Sioux City as a senior, won’t be the only new-look Big Four point guard next season.
After playing without a true point guard in 2011-12, Iowa State will have one next season in Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Spartans before being suspended from the team in January of 2011.
“I think you’ll see us play a more traditional style (in 2012-13),” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “With the makeup of the team last season, we just tried to play to the strengths of our players. With as many shooters as we had on the perimeter, Royce White’s ability to get by bigger defenders and find guys on the perimeter made it work.
“Royce was facilitating the offense 60 to 70 percent of the time.”
Enter Lucious, who sat out last season after transferring.
“He has a great feel for the game,” Hoiberg said. “He’s very aggressive, and he really pushes the ball. I’m looking forward to getting out and running, and we’ve got some guys who can run. We’ll be an exciting team to watch.
“Korie has the ability to get by guys, he’s a good finisher, he can get it out to shooters or ahead to the playmakers. It will allow someone like Will Clyburn to attack from the wing before the defense gets set.”
Drake and Northern Iowa started freshmen point guards last season. Karl Madison ran the Bulldogs’ attack. Coach Mark Phelps lost his backup at point guard, Kurt Alexander, but has brought in some depth in junior college transfer Richard Carter, who signed last fall.
Northern Iowa returns both starter Deon Mitchell and his backup, Matt Morrison, at point guard. Marc Sonnen also saw time at point guard. And the Panthers are getting another point guard in Wes Washpun, who will sit out the 2012-13 season after transferring from Tennessee.
Gesell played second guard for his Martin Brothers AAU team, while Linn-Mar (Marion) and North Carolina signee Marcus Paige played the point. But Gesell played point for his high school team, winning state titles in 2010 and 2011 and placing second in 2012.
“I really see myself as a point guard going forward,” Gesell said. “That’s where I played with my high school team and I think that’s the position I feel most comfortable with.”
Gesell, a Top 100 national recruit, knows he’ll be making a significant jump, from Class B basketball in Nebraska to the Big Ten.
“Being a point guard at the next level, you definitely have to handle the ball very well,” Gesell said. “I’ll continue to work on that and all the little things that go with being a point guard, like getting my teammates involved and trying to be a leader, even though I’m coming in as a freshman. The point guard, I believe, always has to be a leader on the floor, almost a second coach, and I’ll really try to establish that role.”
Gesell is one of five freshmen joining an Iowa team that returns 70 percent of its scoring and rebounding from an 18-17 season, the program’s first winning record since 2006-07.
“I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction, and we have a lot of good players coming in,” Gesell said.
+++ FALL SIGNEES +++
Anthony Clemmons, 6-1 guard, Lansing, Mich. (Sexton): Named to both Associated Press and Bankhoops.com Class B all-state first team. Averaged 13.4 points for a team that won a third consecutive state title.
Mike Gesell, 6-1 guard, South Sioux City, Neb.: Averaged 25.1 points, 7.4 assists, five rebounds and 2.9 steals as a senior. Team finished as Class B runner-up after winning the title in 2010 and 2011. Named Gatorade player of the year in Nebraska for the second straight season. Named first-team all-state for the third consecutive season. Scored 2,112 career points. Ranked 75th nationally in ESPNU’s April Top 100 list, and No. 100 by Rivals.com. Played in the All-American game in New Orleans earlier this month.
Patrick Ingram, 6-2 guard, Indianapolis, Ind. (North Central): Averaged 16.8 points, with nine games of 20-plus points. Also averaged 7.1 rebounds. Shot 63.5 percent from the field but just 57.8 percent from the free-throw line. Selected to Indianapolis Star Indiana All-Star team that plays Kentucky All-Stars twice in June.
Kyle Meyer, 6-10 forward, Alpharetta, Ga. (Northview): Averaged 19.6 points in three games at state for a team that finished fourth. Scored 26 points in state-clinching victory. Played in both the Score 44 and Georgia Athletic Coaches Association all-star games. Honorable mention all-Metro selection. Averaged 18.2 points, shooting 59.6 percent from the field, and 12.9 rebounds as a senior.
Adam Woodbury, 7-1 center, Sioux City East: Finished as East’s career scoring (1,354 points) and rebounding (1,009) leader. Sunday Register first-team all-state selection after averaging 17 points and 11.6 rebounds. Shot 63.6 percent from the field and 50.8 percent from the free-throw line. Made Class 4-A all-tournament team, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds for the state runners-up. Ranked 39th nationally in ESPNU’s April Top 100 list and 50th by Rivals.com. Played in the All-American game in New Orleans earlier this month.
Georges Niang, 6-7 forward, Methuen, Mass. (Tilton School, N.H.): Three-year starter, two-year captain and student body president averaged 25.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Finished with a Tilton-record 2,372 career points. Three-time first-team all-NEPSAC Class AA pick, and was player of the year as a senior. Will play in the 2012 Mary Kline Classic. Ranked 56th nationally in ESPNU’s April Top 100 list, and 69th by Rivals.com.
Nkereuwem Okoro, 6-5 guard, Bronx, N.Y. (St. Raymond): Ranked third-best player in New York City in Class of 2012. First-team all-conference selection after averaging 15.5 points. Team won New York CHSAA Class AA state title. Had 21 points and 10 rebounds in title game and earned playoff MVP honors. Will play in the 2012 Mary Kline Classic.
Sherron Dorsey-Walker, 6-4 guard, Detroit, Mich. (Pershing): Three-year starter averaged 17 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a senior and was named Class A first-team all-state by Detroit News. Was honorable mention Class A all-state pick by the Associated Press. Rated No. 125 nationally by Rivals.com.
Richard Carter, 6-0 guard, Detroit, Mich. (Cloud County C.C., Kan.): Was the leading scorer on a 25-8 team at 19.1 points a game. Also averaged 3.4 assists with a team-best 171 assists (to 98 turnovers) and 78 steals. Shot 76.3 percent from the free-throw line, 31.8 percent from 3 and 39.1 percent from the field overall.
Joey King, 6-8 forward, Apple Valley, Minn. (Eastview): Named to Associated Press first-team all-state squad. Scored 27 points in season-ending loss to Eden Prairie in state quarterfinals. Team finished 28-2. Averaged 19.9 points a game.
Micah Mason, 6-2 guard, Natrona Heights, Pa. (Highlands): Finished his career by winning the WPIAL scoring title for the second consecutive season, averaging 28.7 points. Finished as the WPIAL’s 12th all-time career scoring leader with 2,272 points. Also had 346 career 3-pointers, a WPIAL record. Named first-team Class AAA all-state.
Had no fall signees
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball