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Smoldt selects Upper Iowa

July 31, 2016
ADAM RING , Reinbeck Courier

With the decision made, Joe Smoldt let his future plans be known.

About two months after receiving an offer, the Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior-to-be and basketball standout recently announced he will be continuing his hoops career at Upper Iowa University, an NCAA Division II program in Fayette.

"For me, the coaches are probably the thing I like most," Smoldt said. "The campus is really nice. Right now, I live in a small town and Upper Iowa is in Fayette, which is a small town. Small campus, so not much of a change from where I'm at now to going into college. So, that's nice. I think it's just the right fit for me.

Article Photos

Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior-to-be Joe Smoldt (20) shoots against Jesup during the quarterfinals of the Class 1A boys’ state basketball tournament March 7 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Smoldt scored a career-high 35 points in the Rebels’ 67-48 victory.

"The schools that have been talking to me, the core schools, have been talking to me for a while. I figured why waste time when I've decided? I already looked at the fit it would be, and I thought it'd be the right fit. Another big part of it was trying to get it done and make a decision so I can just focus on my senior year. It was the right time to get it off my chest and commit because it was the right fit."

Upper Iowa is head coached by Brooks McKowen. Heading into his fourth season at the helm of the Peacocks, McKowen has compiled a 49-44 record in his first three seasons. McKowen is a local Iowa guy. Having played his prep basketball at Wapsie Valley High School, a member of the North Iowa Cedar League like Gladbrook-Reinbeck, McKowen averaged 35.8 points and 11.2 rebounds a game his senior year. McKowen played college ball at Northern Iowa, first playing for Greg McDermott and then playing for Ben Jacobson. McKowen was a four-time letter winner during his time as a Panther, helping UNI to three NCAA Tournament appearances.

"He's told me he likes the Iowa guys and not going out of state as much because he knows the Iowa guys can play," Smoldt said. "He's from around here, so that it made it a little bit easier."

McKowen stayed in contact with Smoldt, sometimes attending his basketball games with the AAU Iowa Barnstormers. It was that connection that McKowen continue to make that sold Smoldt on the Peacock program.

"Talking with the coaches as much as I could and liking them more and more every time," Smoldt said. "They always come to the tournaments I'm at with the Barnstormers and a couple baseball games. All the attention they've given me shows me they really want me. That's where I want to be, somewhere where somebody wants me."

Smoldt averaged 25.3 points a game during his junior campaign with the Rebels, helping the Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys' basketball team to a fourth place finish at the Class 1A Iowa High School Boys State Basketball Tournament. His 708 points during the 2015-16 season ranked first in Iowa High School basketball among all classes.

His sophomore year saw Smoldt lead the Rebels, scoring 18 points a game as G-R posted a perfect 28-0 record, bringing home the 1A state title. Upper Iowa runs a motion offense, which opens things up for shooters like Smoldt and McKowen in his playing days.

"Their style of play is something I looked into and talked to the coaches about. They think I can fit really good into their style." Smoldt said. "If you get an open look, you shoot it and let it fly. I'm a good shooter I'd like to think. I think I'll fit in well with some ball screens, and having some freedom in the offense is something I think I'll fit into pretty well."

Smoldt chose Upper Iowa over NAIA programs Morningside College and Briar Cliff University. With the decision of his future college plans out of the way, Smoldt just wants to take a step back to enjoy his senior of high school while continuing to work towards helping the Rebels make another run at the state tournament.

"I'm exciting to see where it's going to go," Smoldt said. "I think Coach McKowen and Coach (Trevor) Hook are good coaches, and they know what they're doing. I'm really excited about that. They'll make me the best player I can be."



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