Newbies impress Hawkeye nation

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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The first game of the 2012 Prime Time League featured two of the most anticipated players to join the Iowa basketball team this coming season.

Point guard Mike Gesell and center Adam Woodbury headlined a nationally ranked recruiting class that will join the Hawkeyes this fall.

Their skills were on display on Tuesday night in a game that Woodbury's team won, 93-89.

Gesell won the individual battle between the future Hawkeyes. The 6-1 guard scored 27 points — connecting on five 3-pointers — to go along with 6 assists and 5 rebounds.

"My emphasis is to just push the ball," he said. "We really want to play up-tempo. I just want to get the best shot for the team. I think that's what the point guard's job is to do."

Gesell demonstrated the ability to find quality looks for his teammates throughout the game. He arched a pass perfectly over a defender that was fronting Prime Time teammate Jarryd Cole in the second half. Cole easily collected the pass from Gesell and turned for a simple lay-up.

Gesell also showed patience while trying to find the open man, waiting on one fast break for his final teammate to cross half court before passing off for a open 3-pointer.

"He's very heady; he's very unselfish," Cole said. "He's very aggressive, and you need that in a point guard. I think that will [help him] thrive in [Fran] McCaffery's system."

Woodbury's final stat line wasn't as impressive, however. He scored only 2 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.

The Hawkeye-to-be said he wasn't sure what his expectations were of him for his freshman year under head coach McCaffery.

"I don't have any real goals in mind. I just want to win," Woodbury said. "I'm going to do whatever it takes to win — if that's getting five assists a game or scoring or rebounding — I'm going to do whatever."

He passed well. He frequently showed his ability to find an open teammate in the first half of Tuesday's game.

Woodbury twice drew applause from the huge crowd in attendance at the North Liberty Community Center for his passes on a pair of give-and-gos. Another time, the 7-1 center grabbed an offensive rebound and wowed the fans with a no-look pass to a teammate for an easy lay-up.

The ability to affect the game without scoring points may prove a valuable asset for Woodbury. He said that increasing his strength is the primary focus of his summer training.

He admirably guarded Cole in the post at times, but there were other instances that the stronger and more experienced Cole made Woodbury look like the freshman-to-be only weeks removed from high school.

But Cole's body type is what Woodbury will face in the Big Ten. The ex-Icelandic pro player is an invaluable training partner for the incoming freshman.

"I hope he stays around for a while, because I think he can help me improve a lot," Woodbury said of Cole. "That could really help me improve a lot because he is a big, strong dude … It would be a good learning experience for me."

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