July 16, 2012
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The transition from high school to college can be difficult for some, but for University of Iowa freshman Mike Gesell, he is soaking everything in this summer and the transition has been seamless.
“The transition was easier than I thought it would be,” said the 6-foot-1, 180-pound point guard. “Coming in, I knew it would be tough. The first week, I probably got lost about four times trying to get to class, getting to the gym, figuring out the bus routes and everything. But overall, it has been a good transition. The people here made it a lot easier.”
Gesell, who is the two-time Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year and four-time all-state honoree for South Sioux City High School, has a full plate each day in preparation for the fall semester. He is taking two classes, while also working on strength and conditioning and going through individual workouts each day. He has enjoyed this summer getting to know his new teammates more on and off the floor.
“It has been a lot of fun,” said Gesell. “All the guys are really nice and they were welcoming. I hang out with them a lot off the floor. On the floor, we have been playing pick-up games, and I think we are going to gel really well.”
Sophomore Aaron White has been impressed with Gesell since day one.
“It has been very beneficial to get my feet wet and start learning the offense, starting to build that chemistry with the guys and getting a feel for the college game. It is a lot different than high school. This game is a lot faster and a lot more physical. Getting used to things now rather than later is going to be beneficial.”
UI freshman guard Mike Gesell
“He’s a workhorse,” said White. “His motor never stops, and he plays really hard. He’s one of those kids who you can tell really loves to play the game, and it shows on the court. He’s a great teammate and addition to the program.”
The Hawkeyes will need to fill the void at point guard left by graduating senior Bryce Cartwright. Gesell has the capability to direct the up-tempo Hawkeye offense after averaging 25.1 points, 7.4 assists, six rebounds and 2.9 steals last winter as a senior. He finished his prep career as the all-time leading scorer in metro Sioux City history with 2,112 points. After garnering all those prep accolades, the rookie is humble and knows there is work to be done.
“I am working on my ball handling a lot, finishing around the rim and being an overall leader on the court this summer,” said Gesell. “As a freshman, sometimes that is hard to do, but I think that is the main thing that point guard has to do. It is something I can really work on.”
Individual summer workouts with the coaching staff is one place Gesell is working on his game and learning the Hawkeye offense along with his new teammates.
“It has been very beneficial to get my feet wet and start learning the offense, starting to build that chemistry with the guys and getting a feel for the college game,” Gesell said. “It is a lot different than high school. This game is a lot faster and a lot more physical. Getting used to things now rather than later is going to be beneficial.”
Gesell, who is one of five incoming freshmen, said all the Hawkeye returnees have aided in his transition, but senior Eric May has had a big influence on him.
“His work ethic is tremendous, especially in the weight room” said Gesell. “Just watching him, you can learn a lot. I am just trying to learn something new every day, especially from those older guys because they have been there and done that.”
Gesell has been impressed, but not surprised, with the fan interest and support. It is noticed at the summer Prime Time League games played on Sunday afternoons.
“I love it,” said Gesell. “I knew Iowa had huge fan support and a huge fan base, but I didn’t think it would be anything like this. It seems like I cannot go anywhere without someone saying ‘Go Hawks’ to me… it’s tremendous.”
It’s examples like that that reinforce Gesell’s decision to become a Hawkeye.
“I really love that I made this decision to come here,” he said. “I love everything. I feel like my game is improving and the school side of it is going well. Everything all around has been great.”