I’m going to forgo all introductions into this piece (kind of) and just get down to the nitty gritty, cold hard facts (sponsor pending) about one of the most successful classes in Iowa Hawkeye basketball history. A group that helped Fran McCaffery and his delightfully dressed coaching staff get off the ropes and back into the middle of the Big Ten ring. A group of guys that came together and produced one of the most exciting basketball seasons in recent history.
I’m not speaking out of turn when I say that, quite simply, a lot of us are going to miss watching these guys.
(All career stats came from Hawkeyesports.com).
- Played in 137 career games (tied for third most in school history)
- As a senior, Clemmons was a co-recipient of the Chris Street Award (which is given to a player/players that most exemplify’s the spirit, enthusiasm, and intensity of Chris Street... this is a big deal among Iowa basketball fans) as well as the Defensive Player Award. Clemmons saved his best basketball for last, posting career bests in every single statistical category that you can keep track of on a basketball court. Was second on the team with 121 assists on the season (10th in the Big Ten on a per game basis) and third in both points per game (8.9) and steals (32).
- Completely shut down life long friend Bryn Forbes in two underdog wins over Michigan State early in the Big Ten season. The chip he played with during these match ups against his lifelong friends will be his best all encompassing performances in a Hawkeye jersey. Clemmons definitely proved that he too can play at the same level as his Lansing cohorts and was an integral cog in both blowouts (yeah, I said it... BLOWOUTS).
- Clemmons was easily the most improved player in his final two seasons as a Hawkeye — something most Iowa fans would have never guessed after his, well, rocky start during his first two seasons in the program.
One of the hardest working players I’ve seen play at Iowa. Whenever people talk about college basketball players that played well beyond what their physical limitations were, Gesell needs to be named. We are talking about a dude that is 6’1” and 185 pounds dogging dudes like Melo Trimble, Yogi Ferrell, Derrick Walton and Keith Appling (to name a few). He was also sneaky athletic. No, like for real:
- As a senior, Gesell notched his name at the top of the Hawkeyes record book for assists in a season (205). He also finished fourth in career assists (557). Everyone’s favorite point guard also had the best assist-to-turnover ratio (3.15) for the Hawkeyes since 1997. He was first on the team in total steals (44) and fourth in scoring (8.1 points per game).
- Fun Fact #1: Gesell was the Founding Father of the Freshman 295/85/85/40 Club (points/assists/rebounds/steals).
- Fun Fact #2: Gesell is one of THREE players (count em, three) in Iowa history to be a part of the 1,000/550/300/150 club (points/assists/rebounds/steals). The other two were Jeff Horner and The Dean Oliver.
- THIS... THIS... THIS:
- All that ever matters in the Oral History of Adam Woodbury (despite the 850+ points, 750+ rebounds, 100+ assists, 50+ blocked shots, 50+ steals and 4+ eyeballs poked that he obtained throughout his Iowa career) will forever and ever and ever and ever be this:
May the basketball God’s be 4ever thanked for this brief moment in time where I (along with the rest of Hawkeye Nation) went from the saddest college basketball fans on the face of this Earth (we were going to lose that game in OT, I’m still convinced) to the happiest SOB’s all in one quick push/tip drill.
This is when I get teary eyed. I loved Jarrod Uthoff. I loved his face. I loved his long arms. I loved his Keith Van Horn-ness (get your mind out of the gutter). I loved his onslaught of offensive basketball moves. The pump fakes. The foot work. The curl screens to start games with the easiest of buckets. The bait fakes. The spin move. The heat checks:
THAT FADE AWAY THO... oh sweet mercy that fade away:
It was all just so methodical and beautiful.
- All of that together helped Uthoff finish 19th in the record books in scoring with 1,298 points, fourth in blocked shots with 177, and 10th in 3-pointers made with 137. And that was only in three total seasons.
- Fun Fact from his Hawkeye Bio page: Jarrod Uthoff was the “first Hawkeye in any sport to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated twice in one year and first time in 50 years an Iowa men's basketball player made the cover”.
- Uthoff finished his Iowa career joining Acie Earl and Greg Stokes as the third member to score at least 1,000 points and swat 150 shots. He is also now one of two Big Ten players since 1996-97 to accumulate 150+ blocks and 125+ 3-pointers made in a career.
- Even though the Hawkeyes ultimately lost, his offensive explosion against Iowa State (which mostly took place in the first half) was one of the most jaw dropping performances in recent Iowa basketball history. He scored 32-points on the game, was 7-12 from inside the arch and 5-8 from long distance. He was a one man wrecking crew. He was (again for at least for an entire half) unstoppable; letting loose — sometimes — ill advised darts that still some how found the bulls eye. It was a game to remember despite the result. It was Uthoff’s coming out party to all of the pundits (I STILL SEE YOU CBS) that didn’t even rank him in their Top 100 players coming into the season. It was the moment when he became “the guy” for the Iowa offense to “THE GUY”. It was special.
So, there you have it. It’s going to be strange not seeing Clemmons/Gesell/Woodbury/Uthoff work together during the 2016-17 season. While there were other freshman transfers that decided to play elsewhere, they can’t compete with all of the things — both on and off the court — that these four individuals were able to do for the Iowa program.
And as some like to say, this isn’t goodbye, but a hope-to-see-you-later.