IOWA CITY — Eastern Iowa wasn't the only road trip this weekend for Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles.
He was in Kansas on Friday night to watch a potential big-man recruit — 6-foot-8, 250-pound Leslee Smith of Seward County (Kan.) Community College.
Smith is from Long Look, British Virgin Islands. He played his freshman season at SMU under then-coach Matt Doherty, starting six games and playing in 25. He averaged 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds for the Mustangs while shooting 44 percent from the field and 57 percent from the free-throw line.
This season, for 25-7 Seward County, Smith averages 8.4 points and 6.7 rebounds. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and the line. Seward County is the same school Husker redshirt Deverell Biggs attended last year.
Nebraska has two scholarships available for next season and needs front-court players. The Huskers already have offered 6-9, 230-pound Matthew Atewe. The Toronto resident plays at Notre Dame Academy in Fitchburg, Mass. He has said NU is among six schools he is considering.
Nebraska signed three perimeter players in November — 6-3 Tai Webster of Auckland, New Zealand; 6-6 Nick Fuller of Sun Prairie, Wis.; and 6-5 Nathan Hawkins of Garland, Texas.
Iowa point guard Mike Gesell, who has missed the past four games with a foot injury, sounded unsure Saturday what his prospects are for returning in time for this week's Big Ten tournament.
“I just don't know when I'm going to be back,” said the freshman from South Sioux City, Neb., who started the Hawkeyes' first 27 games. “We'll have to wait and see.”
His injury occurred in the first Nebraska-Iowa game, won by NU 64-60.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery thinks 20 wins and a 9-9 record in the Big Ten is worth a long look from the NCAA selection committee.
“I think we deserve tremendous consideration,” he said. “I definitely feel we're one of the best 68 teams.
“You look at how we played in our losses, we had a double-overtime loss, an overtime loss, we played Michigan State without our leading scorer and we won three out of four without our starting point guard. We've accomplished a great deal.”
Strength of schedule is Iowa's problem. The Hawkeyes' non-league slate is ranked among the bottom 10 in the country. They played five teams with RPIs between 302 and 342. There are 347 Division I teams.
Bits and pieces
Ľ Roy Devyn Marble reached the 1,000-point mark for his career with his first basket Saturday. His father, Roy Marble, is Iowa's all-time leading scorer with 2,116 points. They are the first father-son duo to reach 1,000 points in Big Ten history.
Ľ Andre Almeida had another strong 17 minutes for Nebraska, with four points and two blocks. He started the second half in place of David Rivers.
Ľ The Iowa student section drew a houseful of chuckles by getting on some Huskers. The group chanted “over-weighted” at the 6-11, 340-pound Almeida and “Gary Coleman” at 5-9 Benny Parker. Miles told people near the Nebraska bench he doubted Parker even knows who Gary Coleman is.
Ľ Former Iowa quarterback Brad Banks attended and was introduced.
— Lee Barfknecht