Mike Gesell commits to Iowa
Point guard Mike Gesell, No. 80 overall in the ESPNU 100, committed to Iowa over in-state Nebraska, Stanford and Creighton on Monday afternoon.
Dave Telep: Hawkeyes Get Their Man
Wherever Mike Gesell (Sioux City, Neb./S. Sioux City) was, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery wasn't far behind all summer long. On the same travel team was coveted center Adam Woodbury (Sioux City, Iowa/East); the coach got a two-for-one viewing. Over the years, the All Iowa Attack program (formerly Martin Bros.) has been good to the Hawkeyes. Current standout Matt Gatens was the team's star before heading to Iowa City.
McCaffery had to get Gesell because he was his best option to steady his program at the point guard slot. Not only that, but entering July, the word on the street was Gesell was an Iowa lean. Stanford's Johnny Dawkins didn't care, he came out for Gesell; so did Harvard, Creighton and home-state Nebraska. The man whose furthest foray into the Midwest came as an assistant coach at Notre Dame needed to get this commitment. On Monday, two years' worth of work culminated in one pledge.
Heading into the summer, the coach told Gesell to look for him and he'd be there.
"I'm pretty sure he didn't miss a single game," Gesell said. "I'm sure Nebraska was probably the closest but he definitely showed a ton of support. He told me he was going to do that but it's tough to make every game but he made it."
In July, McCaffery wasn't alone in his pursuit of Gesell. All he could do was show his unwavering support and hope in the end it would be enough to get it done. Now the coach has an ally in the pursuit of Woodbury, the MVP of the NBPA Top 100 Camp. He has the full attention of McCaffery and his future point guard.
"I'm definitely trying to get Woodbury to come with me," Gesell said. "I think there's a good chance and I hope that I get him to come with me."
-- Dave Telep
"Ever since I visited Iowa it kind of felt right," said the South Sioux City, Neb., prospect. "The difference for me was the plan and vision coach Fran McCaffery has for his program. He wants me to come and play the point and help run the team. He is going to work with me throughout my college career. He's going to work his hardest to maximize my potential."
McCaffery took over the program a year ago and has made great strides in a short amount of time.
He has a successful history as a coach, guiding three different programs -- Sienna, Lehigh and UNC Greensboro -- to NCAA tournaments, and Iowa fans are hoping he can make them his fourth program to reach that level. The best way to begin that quest is through recruiting quality players like Gesell who want to change the culture of the program and are committing to winning.
The moment Gesell steps on Iowa's campus he will be handed the ball and expected to run the show. He is a scoring point guard who is equally effective off the ball. In fact, he plays off the ball with his AAU team All Iowa Attack mainly because he runs with UNC commit Marcus Paige (Marion, Iowa/Linn-Mar). Gesell possesses a high basketball IQ, a great work ethic and understands how to make others around him better by finding them in a scoring position.
"I see Mike having success at Iowa," said All Iowa Attack coach Hank Huddleson. "He is a great kid who is going to play at a great program."
Gesell is tough, competes and cares about winning. He is a back-to-back state champion for his South Sioux City High School, while averaging 25.2 points, 8.2 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game as a junior and was named the 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska. He can knock down timely open 3s as well as hit midrange jumpers off the catch or dribble. Plus, when he makes his way into the paint he shows an excellent floater in the lane that he shoots with touch and body control. He also doesn't mind rebounding on the defensive end and pushing the ball, where he puts immediate pressure on the opponent's transition defense.
Landing Gesell is significant both on the court and in the recruiting circles, as he is working on fellow All Iowa Attack teammates Adam Woodbury (Sioux City, Iowa/East) and Kale Abrahamson (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley). If Iowa can land those two guys to go along with Gesell, McCaffery will truly be building something special.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.