Wednesday seemed like a normal open gym at Dubuque (Iowa) Wahlert High. Sophomore Forward Cordell Pemsl noticed Iowa Assistant Sherman Dillard in the building, something he'd seen countless times before from various members of the Hawkeye staff.
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Pemsl has gotten off to a fast start this spring for his Martin Brothers AAU squad. It's come on the heels of leading Wahlert to the Class 3A state championship with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the title game.
Iowa took notice. It had been recruiting Pemsl for years. He looked forward to speaking with Dillard after Wednesday's open gym in hopes of advancing the relationship. Little did he know the conversation would bring the moment he'd long awaited.
Following an extended evaluation, Dillard delivered the news that the Hawkeyes were offering Pemsl a scholarship. He was stunned.
"I never expected it so soon," Pemsl said. "I mean, I've been in contact with them for awhile now and have developed a great relationship. And it just makes this ride a lot more fun."
Pemsl fought off the urge to commit. He scheduled an Iowa visit for next Thursday with his mother.
Could a Pemsl pledge to the Hawkeyes come at that point?
"It all depends on how the (Iowa) visit goes," he said.
Pemsl's sophomore season was interrupted by a shoulder injury. Still, he averaged 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. Wahlert finished 23-4 with a win against eventual 4A champ, Iowa City West.
Iowa hosted Pemsl in October during its Black and Gold Blowout. He's been to the school on other occasions. The Hawkeyes' offer impacted him.
"It means a lot," he said. "It's a school I've grown up liking and it's a school I could see myself fitting into."
Dillard told Pemsl that the program feels the same about him.
"(He said) they loved the way I've been playing lately and thought it was the right time (to offer). They Just see me as a great fit at Iowa," Pemsl said.
In addition to the three schools that have offered scholarships, Pemsl said he's heard frequently from Wisconsin and Wichita State. Outside of the Hawkeyes, Northern Iowa is the only other campus he's visited.
Pemsl has a good idea what he'll see and hear next Thursday at Iowa. A big part of the trip will be allowing his mother to experience what the Hawkeyes have to offer.
"I really want to choose somewhere she enjoys. It would be hard to go somewhere she doesn't like," Pemsl said.