By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Joe Wieskamp is no different than just about everybody else who plays college basketball at the highest level.
His ultimate goal is to the play in the NBA, probably the sooner the better.
The 6-foot-6 Wieskamp is so determined to play in the NBA that he has decided to test the NBA draft process as a freshman.
“My dream has always been to play in the NBA,” Wieskamp said in a release. “I want to do everything that I can to turn that dream into a reality whenever that may be. I am excited to gain feedback and learn from this process.”
Wieskamp now has until May 29 to decide whether he will actually keep his name in the two-round NBA draft that will take place on June 20 or return to Iowa for his sophomore season.
That will give Wieskamp more than a month to learn where he stands as a draft prospect and to gather as much information as possible.
“Joe should take advantage of this opportunity and we fully support his decision,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “This rule is a positive one for those in pursuit of their professional dreams. We have had players in the past go through the process, all of whom found it beneficial in gathering information through workouts and interviews from NBA personnel. We will assist Joe throughout the process.”
The only potential downside to this decision is that it might cause Wieskamp to miss some practice time with his Iowa teammates this spring if he actually goes as far as to visit some NBA organizations.
But that seems pretty minor compared to the benefits.
It used to be that declaring for the NBA Draft usually meant that a college player already had one foot out of the door and was ready to move on.
That is no longer the case, though.
The rules concerning early entry in the NBA Draft aren’t nearly as rigid as they used to be. College players now have more flexibility and more freedom to gauge the likelihood of getting drafted without forfeiting college eligibility. And they’re taking advantage of it.
My guess is that Wieskamp knows that he isn’t ready to play in the NBA, but he wants to hear from NBA scouts and executives about what it’ll take to get him ready.
Wieskamp is certainly an intriguing talent as he started every game for Iowa as a freshman this past and averaged 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest for a team that finished 23-12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa teammates Tyler Cook and Isaiah Moss also tested the NBA Draft process last spring before returning to Iowa for their junior seasons.
The 6-9 Cook is expected to declare for the draft again this spring, but this time he reportedly plans to hire an agent and will not return to Iowa for his senior season.
The 6-5 Moss has not said publicly what he plans to do this offseason. But since he already has tested the draft process once, it makes sense that he would do it again.
Should that happen, along with Cook almost certainly leaving, and with Wieskamp testing the draft process and Maishe Dailey already planning to transfer, this offseason could have some distractions.
Selfishly, you’d prefer that all of the returning players stay focused on being a Hawkeye until their eligibility is finished. But that isn’t the world we live in, and Wieskamp’s decision to test the draft process is a reminder of that.
The Muscatine native has a bigger goal than just being a Hawkeye and testing the NBA Draft process is one step to achieving that goal.