July 10, 2009
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Usually this time of summer, Eric May, one of the most accomplished two-sport high school athletes in the state of Iowa, laces up the turf cleats or tries to squeeze into a football helmet.
“I don’t miss (football practice) at all,” said May with a laugh. “I’ve been talking to some friends and all of them have been complaining about having to go out to football. I’ll stay in the gym.”
A year ago at Wahlert High School in Dubuque, May — a quarterback — completed 57.4-percent of his passes for 2,125 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Golden Eagles lost to Cedar Falls in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs, 36-19. In basketball, May led the state in scoring with 607 points in 25 games (24.3 points per game). Wahlert advanced to the Class 3A state tournament, falling in the first round to eventual runner-up Norwalk, 56-41.
Now May is a student at University of Iowa and basketball is his sole athletic obsession.
“It’s all sinking in that I’m becoming a Hawkeye,” May said. “I’m going to this school and I’m part of this team. It’s reality. I’ve been playing my whole life — I love basketball. I couldn’t imagine myself giving it up after high school. That would have been too tough.”
May will finally be teamed with another in-state incoming freshman, Brennan Cougill of Sioux City Heelan. May, Cougill and freshman Cully Payne are three of four Hawkeye newcomers. The other is junior college transfer Devon Archie.
“I finally get to play on (Cougill’s) team,” May said. “I’ve been playing against him for years in AAU and high school. It’s good to play with guys like that, I’m enjoying it.”
He is also learning to deal with some good-natured trash-talking from teammates. A day after May’s Prime Time League team, Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s, lost a 109-106 double-overtime thriller to Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing, Payne, who plays for IS/GP, began chiding his colleague on the floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I love playing in the Prime Time League,” May said. “I finally get to play some basketball. It’s tough and it’s competitive. Cully has to rub it in, though. That’s all right. Next time I’ll have to get him.”
During the game July 6, May scored 23 points with seven assists; Payne scored 22 points with eight assists.
“We’re a fresh team,” May said of the 2009-10 Hawkeyes. “We’re young and it’s going to be an exciting year. There’s a lot of energy in the open gyms and there
“It’s a big deal. Our fans take basketball seriously. I’m from the Hawkeye Nation and it’s a big deal to be a part of what I used to cheer for all the time. It’s kind of like a dream.”
UI incoming freshman
will be a lot of energy during the season. I want to be part of the rebuilding and I believe with Coach (Todd) Lickliter’s system and all the coaching staff and all the guys around here that we’ll be able to do that and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Iowa returns three of its top six scorers from a team that went 15-17 last season, 5-13 in the Big Ten Conference. Of the six returning letterwinners, five of them — Matt Gatens, Anthony Tucker, Devan Bawinkel, Aaron Fuller and Jarryd Cole — have starting experience. The Hawkeyes opened the season winning 10 of their first 13 games and compiled an overall record of 13-4 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
May is excited to represent the University and all the Hawkeye fans.
“It’s a big deal,” May said. “Our fans take basketball seriously. I’m from the Hawkeye Nation and it’s a big deal to be a part of what I used to cheer for all the time. It’s kind of like a dream.”
At 6-foot-5, May is listed as a guard/forward. He refers to himself as a `slasher guard’ who wants to be able to play multiple positions.
“Whether it’s shooting the ball, bringing the ball up the court or having to guard a bigger guy, I want to be able to do it all,” May said.
The summer months have been anything but a vacation for May. He goes through workouts four days a week and he is also enrolled in two courses.
“There’s not a lot of free time, but I’m enjoying it,” May said. “I want to be a business major, possibly go into accounting. Right now I’m getting my (general education courses) out of the way.”
With six UI player departures since the conclusion of the 2009 Big Ten tournament, May knows that there will be opportunities to play right away.
“I’m trying to work as hard as I can because there’s playing time available,” May said. “I’m trying to work to take advantage of that and earn that any way I can.”