Every summer I like to do a story on a basketball player who is going into their senior year.
This will be an easy pick for women’s basketball as Joann Hamlin will be the only senior on the Iowa roster this fall.
Ever since Joann became eligible after transferring from Kansas State in 2006, the Hawkeyes won a Big Ten championship her sophomore year (2007-08) then came through with a second place finish last season.
Add two NCAA tournament selections, back-to-back 21-win seasons and you have a nice two-year run.
What do you do for your final year?
“Win the Big Ten outright,” said Joann, a 6-3 senior, with a smile.
That will be a big challenge with the Hawks losing five super seniors and only Jo, Kamille Wahlin and Kachine Alexander having any starting experience.
The Hawkeyes are bringing in five new freshmen with four of them expected to play this fall.
Theairra Taylor, a top recruit from Minnesota, might have to red shirt because of knee surgery.
Joann played in all 32 games as a sophomore with one start as the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten championship for the first time in 10 years. She averaged 3.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and shot 46 percent from the floor that year. She also had 23 blocked shots, which tied for the most on the team.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Jo. “It was kind of weird because the year I sat out we didn’t do very well so people didn’t really expect anything. People from the outside had their doubts after we started slow but we came back and proved to people that we were legit. It was fun.”
Last year Joann started the first 18 games at power forward. She injured her ankle in practice, missed five games and came off the bench the rest of the season.
Her numbers jumped to 7.6 points and 6.1 rebounds (second on the team) and she was a co-captain. The Hawkeyes finished second in the Big Ten.
“I felt more comfortable being in the role that I was in last year,” said Joann. “We had a really good mix of old and young I think last year. That’s good, because older ones can lead the younger ones. At the same time the young ones don’t know the pressures and they can come in and play how they always play.’
Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder likes what the only senior brings to the table.
“Jo should have a terrific senior season,” said coach Bluder. “She is one of our captains and most experienced players. Jo has a great intensity that sets the tone for the rest of the team. She works hard in the weight room and through her discipline has made herself into an all-around athlete.”
Joann will be the only Hawkeye with experience that has played the post position and Coach Bluder has confidence in her co-captain.
“Jo will be asked to play with her back to the basket this year and defend the oppositions’ best post players,” said the coach. “That will be a challenge but I’ve never seen Jo back down from a challenge.”
Joann was a multitalented athlete in high school. She was a four-year starter in basketball and also lettered in golf and track.
Jo is the first person I’ve ever met that threw the javelin and she placed first in the state throwing the shot put her junior year. Her golf team also won the state championship that year plus she was an honor roll student.
“It’s a little different, “ said Jo of throwing the javelin. “It’s like throwing the baseball but it’s a little different.”
When it came to picking a college, Joann – who grew up in Douglass, Kan. – looked at Nebraska, Vanderbilt and Kansas State among others.
K-State won out and she started in 31 of 33 games as a freshman for the Wildcats.
Joann averaged 10 points, 4.6 rebounds and her 31 starts were the fifth most for a freshman that year.
“I loved the campus and the school and everything was great but the coaching wasn’t exactly what I wanted,” said Jo as she transferred to Iowa after playing one year at K-State.
Jennie Lillis, former Hawkeye and assistant coach at K-State, told Joann to check out Iowa.
The visit to Iowa City went well and Joann became a Hawkeye.
Iowa will be young this year but Joann is excited about the young talent on the team.
“I really think we’re going to be a lot different team,” said Jo. “Usually we’re more of a half court, work the offense and shoot the outside ball type of team. I think we might have more of a run and gun team.”
Joann is really good at running the court and if the young guns step up at the very least the Iowa Hawkeyes will be a lot of fun to watch.