Iowa Natives Who Have Played In The Final Four [GALLERY]
Don't think that Linn-Mar graduate Marcus Paige playing in the National Championship game tonight is a small thing. It's not. Making it to The Final Four isn't easy. Just ask all the other Iowa natives who've been there. The list is small. Some of the best players from Iowa have never been there. Raef Lafrentz? No Final Fours. Harrison Barnes? He has an NBA ring, but no Final Fours.
You have to go back to the late 90's and early 2000's, and you have to go to Kansas and Arizona to find them. Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison were both from Iowa. They both choose Kansas over other schools, including Iowa. You have to wonder what might have been. The two led a couple of loaded Kansas teams to back to back Final Fours in 2002 and 2003 under then head coach Roy Williams. They didn't win titles either year, and Williams bolted for North Carolina. Cedar Rapids Praire graduate Justin Wessel choose the sun of Arizona over his home state. Under former Iowa coach Lute Olson, Wessel was a redshirt freshman with the Wildcats during their 1997 championship run, but he did travel with the team. He was a five-year senior at Arizona.
Looking for Iowa-born players that made it to the Final Four wasn't easy. But finding an IOWA team in the Final Four is just as hard. Hawkeye fans remember the 1980 Iowa team led by Ronnie Lester reaching the Final Four. Iowa fans also remember the 1954-55 and 1955-56 Iowa teams making back to back Final Fours. The Hawks were runner-up to Bill Russell's San Francisco team in 1956. Iowa State's last trip to the Final Four was in 1944. They've returned to the Elite Eight in the modern era, but never back to the Final Four.