BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
CEDAR FALLS – Out of the blue, he’s back in purple and gold.
Fort Madison’s Miles Wentzien has signed with Ben Jacobson and the University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team for the upcoming season as a walk-on.
As little as three weeks ago, the Junior College First-Team All-American was looking at American University in Washington, DC and two division II schools in Minnesota.
“This was a late school for sure,” Wentzien said Thursday. “My mom actually emailed them out of the blue and asked them to take a look at me. They ended up calling me and they wanted me as a walk-on.”
At Kirkwood Community College last year, Wentzien finished the season averaging close to 15 points per game, shooting 49% from the field including 35% from the 3-point arc and 90.2% from the free throw line.
Wentzien does have a red-shirt option so he could potentially have three years with the Panthers but will be a walk-on this year.
“There’s not a scholarship on the table, but I’m hoping I can get one,” he said.
The move wasn’t a move of logistics or being able to stay closer to home. Wentzien said it’s the best move for him now.
“It wasn’t as much about staying in Iowa,” he said. “Overall their program was the right fit for me. I’ve heard nothing but good things from the coaches and one of my teammates also had good things to say about UNI.
“I just feel like it’s the right fit for me. It’s a high level program, well-supported, and everything fell into place. I trust coach Jacobson and I think I offer something a little different to what they have.”
He said his conversations with Jacobson have focused in versatility and his ability to play the guard position.
Wentzien said UNI will help him prepare for his career goal of playing professionally overseas or in the NBA.
“Some people are saying I won’t have the numbers to go to the next level, but I’m gonna push myself every single day,” he said. “I’ll have access to facilities and people that are going to help me get better and if it ends up that I don’t have the numbers, then I’ll still be the best player I can be.”
He said workouts start on June 5 when summer classes begin at the university.