Jeff Horner Points To The Season

Jeff Horner, the most ballyhooed high school point guard ever in the state of Iowa, is a refreshingly unassuming, down to earth young man. I had not seen Jeff up close for several years. He has been in the spotlight since he committed to Iowa as a freshman at Mason City High School. I happened to be there at the time. To fully understand my thoughts about Jeff, we have to go back to the future as I recalled my last sighting of Horner four years ago.

Van Coleman was having a FutureStars shootout at the Drake University Knapp Center in Des Moines in the spring of 1998. On this Easter weekend, Steve Alford and his father, Sam were not hunting for eggs. The egg hunt for Steve's kids would have to be after the Shootout at Drake. Larry Eustachy had offered Horner in January and was applying pressure to get the recruiting over with. Steve had just accepted the job in Iowa City when he entered the fray for Mason City High School Basketball Coach Bob Horner's offspring.

After watching one short 15-minute game, the Alfords had seen enough. The decision was made to offer Jeff on the spot. Horner didn't tarry long before making an oral commitment to fulfill his lifelong dream. He would become the floor general for his beloved Hawkeyes in 2002.

Fast forward to Iowa Basketball Media Day last week. Although Jeff played and joked with his teammates, he parried the requests of reporters with the consummate skill gained by being in charge of whatever he does. When I asked Jeff about his recruitment, he said, "I have the utmost respect for Iowa State, but I always wanted to be a Hawkeye!"

What will be the strength of this team, I asked. "We have a lot of players from the state of Iowa" Jeff said adding, "We will work our butts off for Iowa!"

When I asked Jeff if he was ready to be the point guard at Iowa, he responded, "I've been training for this all my life." Unsure about the nature of the injury to his foot, I asked Horner about his health. "The break was not in my toe, as many people think, It's the fifth metatarsal bone that was broken." I'm about 90 percent right now and have only been fully working out for two weeks," added Horner. "There is still some pain, but that should be gone soon as it heals. You can count on me being ready by the start of the season! I wouldn't miss this opportunity for anything."

When I asked Jeff what he looked forward to the most he deftly answered, "I just want to run out of that tunnel as a Hawkeye! I have worked real hard to get here and that is my reward. I have a lot of heart, as do my teammates. We will work very hard to make you all proud of us," he added.

I know that a couple of people in Mason City are already very proud of this articulate young man.

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