Metro Sioux City has produced a handful of men's basketball players over the last 20 years that have started at NCAA Division one schools. But when Iowa opens the regular season on Friday, three metro players, Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell, and Zach McCabe, will all be starting for the Hawkeyes. It's something we may never see again.
Since last making the NCAA tournament in 2006, Iowa has had four losing seasons and one appearance in the NIT. But with a freshman class ranked in the top-25 by ESPN, these Hawkeyes are expecting a seat at the Big Dance.
"Without a doubt," said Woodbury. "Obviously I haven't played college basketball yet but from what everybody's saying, what the coaches are talking, we're going to be disappointed if we don't."
"We definitely feel like the skies the limit for us," said Gesell. "We feel like if we defend, if we get after it, if we play well together, we can definitely have a very successful season this year."
Out of Sioux City East, Woodbury was ranked as the 10th best center in the nation. Gesell, of South Sioux City, Nebraska, was ranked as the 13th best point guard. Now the pressure in on these freshman to accomplish big things in the Big Ten.
"I'd rather have high expectations than low," said Woodbury. "I'd rather have the fans be excited about where we're going with this team. Hopefully we can make them happy about it."
"Definitely one of my goals was to be a leader this year so that feels great that it's coming from my teammates who I respect the most, and the coaches, that they're looking at me to be a leader," added Gesell.
"As a freshman class I think they brought a lot of talent, a lot of depth," said McCabe. "Just having that type of depth that we need is, in the long run, going to help us. Having big guys too, size, they brought a lot of size and strength and talent."
Gesell and Woodbury competed against each other in high school but during the summers, they were AAU teammates. Both could have gone anywhere but Iowa picked up a great two-for-one combination.
"We definitely talked about going to the same school a lot throughout the process," said Gesell. "We always told each other we would do what was best for us. Talking about it more, we both loved McCaffery and we decided going to the same school would be perfect."
"I mean I'm excited," added Woodbury. "Obviously I knew coming to Iowa I was going to play in the Big Ten, one of the most physical league's there is. We'll see what happens."
"Adam's as tough as nails," said Gesell. "He might be a little skinny but nobody's going to mess with him. He's definitely worked hard in the weight room to get a little bit bigger. He's just a great player. He's so skilled. He's going to be ready for this level.
"The only expectation, I hope I can make a difference on this team," said Woodbury. "Hope to make a positive difference and help the guys win."
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