March 29, 2012

Future Hawks team up again

Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell have played countless games together over the past four years. They have even slipped in a few where their teams played against each other with their high school teams. This Sunday, they will be teammates once again as participants in the 2nd annual All American Championship held in the same town as the Final Four.

The future Hawkeye duo hopes that the next time they are playing in a Final Four host city it will be in an actual Final Four game.

"It would be awesome," Gesell said. "That's a goal of mine and I think we have a chance of doing that in the next four years. We just have to keep working hard and getting better."

His 7 foot running mate from Sioux City agrees and won't settle for anything less.

"I don't want to go to any more Final Fours watching from the stands, that's for sure," Woodbury said. "I was happy for the team this year getting to the NIT. I thought that was a big step for the program, but I'm not going to be satisfied with the NIT and finishing 7th in the Big Ten and I know no one else on the team will be."

In their senior seasons, Woodbury and Gesell continued to rack up outstanding numbers and both came close to winning state titles, finishing second in their respective state championships. Woodbury led all Class 4A players in rebounding and finished with 1,434 points and 1,003 rebounds at Sioux City East High School.

Gesell shined at nearby South Sioux City High School across the river in Nebraska, winning two state titles. He was recently named Nebraska's Gatorade Player of the Year for the second straight year, scoring 2,112 points in the process.

This Sunday they will team up again as part of the North squad in the All American Championship on a roster that includes several future Big Ten players. Incidentally, Iowa is one of nine college programs with at least two players on the 40 man rosters.

"I was excited to get the invitation to play in the game," Gesell said. "There are a lot of future Big Ten players on our team, so it will be cool to start building relationships with some of those guys."

For Woodbury it's also an opportunity to measure himself against some of the best prep seniors in the country as he continues to work on his game before arriving in Iowa City this summer.

"I know a lot of the guys because we have played against so many of them in AAU, so you get one more chance to see how you stack up against them and see how you have improved," Woodbury said. "It will also give me the opportunity to see what I really need to continue to work on before my first year in college."

Their game will tipoff at 2:00 p.m. (Central) and will air live on ESPN3.com. It will air on ESPNU on Sunday evening starting at 9:30 p.m.

Since the end of their high school season, Woodbury and Gesell have been in the gym on almost a daily basis, many times working out together. The Hawkeyes end of the season run into the NIT and the energy provided by Iowa's fan support is fueling their desire to keep improving and preparing for the future.

"It was really great that they made it into post season play and win a game. I really think if not for a few early season losses, they would have been right there for the NCAA Tournament and that is something we will learn from next year that we have to take care of business in the early part of the season," Gesell said.

For Woodbury, it's about taking the next step and seeing the Hawkeyes make the Big Dance next year and for the years to come.

"If you look at the last ten years of Iowa Basketball, the NIT would have been good in many of those years, so it was step in the right direction, but we want more," Woodbury said. "We have to continue to build and this was a good step. You can't match getting to the NCAA Tournament. I know everyone in the program wants to make that next step next year and play in the NCAA Tournament."


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