IC’s Stoermer living the dream as a Hawk

BY IAN MARTIN | JANUARY 19, 2011 7:10 AM

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In all the shuffle of new faces for Iowa basketball this past off-season, a local former high-school star quietly signed to play for the Hawkeyes, albeit as a walk-on. It was certainly a compelling story on paper — Iowa City West’s second all-time leading scorer and career steal leader returning home.

But oddly, there was seemingly no media attention about it.

It’s especially odd if you talk to anyone who has coached Stoermer during his path to the Hawkeyes.

Take, for instance, the words of Doug Wagemester, the head coach at Kirkwood Community College, where Stoermer spent two years in between Iowa City and, well, Iowa City.

“He’s a ‘Steady Eddie,’ ” Wagemester said. “He’s a good teammate. He can be looked up to in terms of effort and in terms of basketball IQ. He genuinely cares about the team before himself.”

Stoermer could be easily compared with former Northern Iowa standout Ali Farokhmanesh, who was also a star player at West High before ending up at a state school after turns at other colleges.

And while Stoermer hasn’t had the national or even local attention Farokhmanesh garnered at Northern Iowa, the potential is there for him to break out this year or next.

With Stoermer having played in 12 games this season, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said he would have been more of a regular in the team’s rotation if not for an early season back injury. But now he’s close to 100 percent, and that means more minutes.

“Now that he’s got his legs back underneath him, he’s going to play because he can make shots,” McCaffery said.

Stoermer may be best known for his near-perfect form 3-point shot and the potential he can be a threat off the bench. And while this season he’s averaging just 2.4 points per game, he dropped an impressive eight points in just 11 minutes against Northwestern on Jan. 12.

Stoermer seems to have the team-first attitude Wagemester mentioned in spades. Growing up a Hawkeye fan for most of his childhood — save for seven years in Kansas where he also learned to appreciate the Kansas Jayhawks — he has a double interest in the fate of the revived team as a player and a fan.

He said the prospect of someday playing at Iowa was one of his big motivating factors, especially at Kirkwood.

“If I had a whole bunch of offers from a bunch of different schools, I would have probably chosen Iowa,” he said.

And in the middle of two seasons on nationally ranked JuCo teams, he improved to the point that he was named the 2010 All-Regional Most Valuable Player. Yet while he was one of the best players at Kirkwood, he understands where he fits into the new puzzle that Iowa is trying to solve. He simply wants to be an example of a hard worker and be an example of how anybody can play for the program.

“We’re willing to outwork people,” Stoermer said. “That’s a good aspect, I think, of our program.”

So whether Stoermer is sitting on the bench at Iowa or next year’s breakout star, the humble engineering major could seem to care less — he’s just enthusiastic about basketball. He said he’s always calm, likes playing in front of crowds, and he likes playing with his former high-school rivals in Matt Gatens (Iowa City High) and Eric May (Dubuque Wahlert).

Most of all, though, Stoermer just seems content that his hard work is finally paying off, and he’s reaping the benefits of showing his unnoticed, junior-college-built game off to those given more opportunities than he.

“It’s pretty sweet to sit there and be like ‘This is a future NBA player’ that I might get to guard,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s a dream come true.”

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