Coming Home

After 2 seasons at Kirkwood, Iowa City West graduate Justin Wieck walked onto the Iowa basketball team. The 6-6 guard earned all-region honors last winter after averaging 10.8 PPG and grabbing 4.8 RPG. He shot 17 of 30 on 3-pointers and over 80 percent from the foul line. First-team all-State at West and helped the Trojans win a state title as a sophomore when Glen Worley was a senior. spoke with Wieck at the PTL Thursday to find out why he turned down scholarships to walk on at Iowa.

How did you end up walking on at Iowa?

It's always been something that I've wanted to do ever since I was little. I approached my junior college coach (Kirkwood's Doug Wagemester) about asking (Iowa). He's (Hawkeye Assistant Coach Greg Lansing).

It just kind of evolved from there. They said that they'd love to have me. It kind of just worked out, I guess.

Were there other opoortunities for you?

There were Division II offers that were there for me. But I really didn't want to go to a smaller school in North Dakota or South Dakota. I wanted to stay around here and go to a big school. I always wanted a chance to play in the Big Ten. Hopefully I'll get that.

What have the Iowa coaches said that they expect from you?

They just want me to work hard every day in practice, and if I'm called upon in the games to play a minute or two or how ever many minutes if injuries or other stuff happens.

I'm not expecting to play all that much. Of course, I want to play. I just have to work hard every day, and hopefully I get my chance sometime.

What kind of mindset will that take to go all-out in practice every day knowing you probably won't be rewarded with playing time?

It will be a little different for me. My freshman year at Kirkwood I didn't play as much as I was used to in the past. I probably played 10 or 15 minutes a game.

But it will be a totally knew experience for me. It's going to take a lot of mental toughness; just trying to keep yourself in game shape just in case they need you.

Do you feel like there is an opportunity there to earn a scholarship?

It doesn't really matter to me. Of couse I'd want one. But it doesn't matter. I'm not even thinking about that.

Growing up in Iowa City, what's it going to be like to pull that uniform over your head the first time?

It will be something that I've always dreamed of. I used to go to games when I was 4 or 5 years old and watched on TV all of the time. It's been my dream forever. I finally get the chance to live it.

You were a successful baseball player in high school. Why did you choose basketball at the next level?

When I went to Kirkwood I was going to play both sports. I got my scholarship money in basketball.

About the first week, I tried to do both. But we'd do basketball in the morning before class; then go to class; then have basketball in the afternoon; then study hall; then baseball for three hours at night.

After the first week, I realized that I couldn't do it. So, I chose basketball over baseball.

What's it like for your family knowing that you're going to be playing basketball at Iowa?

They're very proud. All of my family lives around here; grandpas and grandmas and all of that. They're real excited. And my immediate family, my parents, are proud because they know it's what I've always wanted.

What are you focusing on improving this summer?

I'm just getting over an ankle injury. It's the first time I've played in about two weeks. I'm trying to work on strength. I need to get bigger. I need to gain some weight. And I need to keep working on my shooting an my ball handling because I'll probably be playing the three.

What do you view your job being when you come to practice?

The key to any good team is how practice is. And you can't practice with six or seven guys. You've got to have 12, 13 or 14. Then you can go at it every day. You practice hard; make the starters or whoever better. And Hopefully, I'll get my chance to play sometime.

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