Lake City junior Heise commits to play ball at Division I Northern Iowa
There were a number of boxes that Nathan Heise wanted to check off for a college basketball home.
Monday night, he determined that Division I University of Northern Iowa checked off more than anywhere else, as the Lake City junior verbally committed to the Missouri Valley Conference school.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Heise is coming off a season in which he averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He shot 55 percent from the field, including 39 percent from 3-point distance and made 85 percent of his free throws.
“I’m super excited,” said Heise, considered one of the top handful of Lake City basketball players ever. “Right away I knew that this was the type of place for me. It’s a nice distance from home (2 1/2 hours), the coaches have been there 10-15 years, they’ve had a good history of success, and their goals are the same as mine — to win games and championships.”
Heise is joining a team that finished 16-18 last year but has a history of reaching the NCAA Tournament under 11th-year coach Ben Jacobson, having made it four times.
Jacobson’s overall record is 234-134 and his teams have twice beaten what was the No. 1-ranked team in the country at the time, Kansas and North Carolina.
In joining a Division I program, Heise is fulfilling a long-time dream.
His sister, Taylor Heise, is a former Minnesota Ms. Hockey who plays Division I hockey for the University of Minnesota and was one of the most heavily recruited players in the country one year ago.
“Playing Division I was important to me,” Heise said. “That’s been a goal of mine since I was young. I’ve wanted to play at the highest level that I can.”
Lake City coach Greg Berge considers Northern Iowa to be an ideal fit for Heise, who helped guide the Tigers to this past season’s state tournament where it lost in the semifinals to eventual state champion Minnehaha Academy.
“Nate wanted to play at the highest level he could and a place where he could have a strong role,” Berge said. “I think he’ll be able to have that at Northern Iowa. It’s a program that likes to space the floor and they rely on good shooters.
“Nate fits that mold. Plus, they have a defense-firsrt mentality, and Nate is a very good defender.”