By Dylan Burn
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Joe Wieskamp and C.J. Fredrick have moved a step closer to being Iowa basketball players as they both signed national letters of intent on Wednesday.
For Wieskamp, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Muscatine, it was the next step in a journey that started over two years ago when he committed to Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.
"It feels great," Wieskamp said. "Definitely a little weight off my shoulders knowing that I'm officially committed and that my next four years I'll be surrounded by great coaches and players at a great university."
Wieskamp committed to Iowa in June of 2015. He then burst on the national scene that summer by performing well at AAU Tournaments and is now ranked among the top 50 players in the 2018 class.
However, Wieskamp said the blue-blood programs never really came calling.
"Honestly, not really," he said about other schools trying to lure him away from Iowa. "I think schools knew right away how firm my commitment was to Iowa and they all backed off."
McCaffery said Wieskamp has everything he looks for in a player.
“Not only is Joe is an incredibly versatile player, but he is a person with terrific character, basketball intellect, and commitment to the team," McCaffery said. "We could not be more thrilled because he epitomizes everything you look for. Joe can help you win in a lot of different ways. He has one of the best 3-point shooting strokes I have ever seen. He is also a terrific rebounder, can attack the rim, is unselfish, and can affect the game defensively, which for good offensive players is not always the case. He understands how to win and does what it takes to win.”
With signing day now over, Wieskamp can focus solely on his senior season at Muscatine High School. He will use his senior season as a chance to improve, while trying to lead his team to the state tournament.
Muscatine fell one game short of making the state tournament last season.
"My biggest goal for this season is to develop my skills for the next level and to try to lead this team to state," Wieskamp said. "I'm truly focused on this season and making my team better."
While Wieskamp had to wait for more than two years to sign his letter of intent, the circumstances were much different for Fredrick, a 6-4 shooting guard from from Alexandria, Ky.
Fredrick committed to the Hawkeyes in early August without a scholarship being available. Fredrick was willing to wait for a scholarship to become available, but he didn't have to wait long as junior point guard Christian Williams announced on Oct. 26th that he would be leaving the Iowa program after the fall semester.
McCaffery already has told Fredrick that he will receive Williams' scholarship.
"It was great to have all my friends, family, coaches, and supporters there," Fredrick said of his big day. "It was a special day. I was just so excited to officially be a Hawk."
Fredrick stunned the surrounding community when he chose Iowa over schools such as Xavier and Cincinnati. However, those close to Fredrick weren't surprised that he picked McCaffery and the Hawkeyes.
Fredrick's uncle, Joe Fredrick, played for Notre Dame in the late 1980s when McCaffery was an assistant coach for the Fighting Irish.
"I'm not sure people grasp what Fran meant to me as player at (Notre Dame)," Joe Fredrick said. "And how that affected C.J. and his families decision. We all trust him (Fran) like no other."
McCaffery is thrilled to be adding a player of Fredrick's caliber.
“I’ve been impressed with C.J. going back to when we first started watching him play," McCaffery said in a release. "He is a good shooter and scorer, but also is a good ball handler and creates shots for other people. He’s equally adept at making plays for himself and his teammates that help you win. C.J. is fiercely competitive and can play multiple positions. He felt comfortable here during the recruiting process, watched us on TV, and really studied our program.
"I coached his uncle and have known his father for a long time. There was that comfort level with me. C.J. likes our style of play and was willing to commit to us even when there was not a scholarship available immediately. We are excited about him."
C.J. Fredrick said he never wavered on his commitment to Iowa despite hearing some pro-Xavier talk.
"I didn't feel a lot of pressure to go there (Xavier)," Fredrick said. "But there were people persuading me to going there. I just knew I always wanted to go to Iowa and I made a great decision."
C.J. Fredrick is widely considered one of the best players in Kentucky, if not the best, and is the early favorite to win Mr. Basketball in Kentucky entering his senior season.
"I want to do whatever I can to help my team win a state championship," C.J. Fredrick said.
The addition of Wieskamp and Fredrick comes one year after McCaffery signed post players Luka Garza and Jack Nunge in the 2017 class. Garza and Nunge both are expected to be key contributors for Iowa as freshmen this season.