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Megan Gustafson Deserves Your Respect

Megan Gustafson is one of the five best women’s players in the country. Disagree? You’re wrong.

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Minnesota vs Iowa Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Megan Gustafson is the nation’s leading scorer (25.6 ppg).

Megan Gustafson has the best field-goal percentage in the nation (.668).

Megan Gustafson has made more field goals than anyone in the nation this season (308).

Megan Gustafson leads the nation in points per possession (1.302).

Megan Gustafson has the second-most double-doubles in the nation this season (27).

Megan Gustafson is fifth in the nation in rebounding (12.7 rpg).

Megan Gustafson is, somehow, a second-team all-American, according to USA Today.

There are a lot of really great players in basketball this year and Megan Gustafson certainly is one of them.

Picking All-American classes is never easy, especially when the amount of talent across the board is so high. Take the USA Today’s Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, for example. The first-team All-American South Carolina center has been named SEC player of the year for the last three seasons in a row, and is the only one in the country to rank in the top 15 in points, rebounds, and blocks. She’s really good!

And, on an individual basis, so are the other four USA Today first-team All-Americans: Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut), Asia Durr (Louisville), Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon) and Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State).

They really are doing some amazing things. Samuelson is averaging 17.9 points, pulling down 4.4 rebounds, and dishing out 3.7 assists per game. She’s also hitting an incredible 46.2 percent of her three-pointers on 6.3 (!!!) attempts a game.

Oh, and the Huskies are 32-0.

Durr is in similar company, as the Cardinals are 32-2 and she’s scoring 18.8 points per game and has a similar three-point percentage.

Vivans helped the Bulldogs to a 32-1 mark so far this season, while putting up impressive numbers. Ionescu scored 36 in the Pac-12 tournament championship, Oregon’s first ever.

All of these players are deserving. But so is a certain Hawkeye.

Megan Gustafson was named the Big Ten Player of the Year by the media.

Megan Gustafson is a unanimous first-team Big Ten player.

Megan Gustafson led the Big Ten in points, rebounding, field goal percentage, defensive rebounds, and free throws made.

Megan Gustafson was in the top-six individually in the Big Ten in blocked shots (2.1 pg), offensive rebounds (3.8 pg), and free throw percentage (.802).

Megan Gustafson was named Big Ten player of the week nine times this season, a conference record.

Megan Gustafson broke the Big Ten tournament and Iowa single-game scoring record with 48 points against Minnesota in the conference quarterfinals. The Hawkeyes lost by a point.

It’s hardly been an easy year for Iowa.

After starting the season 15-1, the Hawkeyes started to struggle as the season went along. Tania Davis tore her ACL (in a different leg) for the second year in a row. Makenzie Meyer missed six games with a broken hand. At one point Iowa was 4-5 in the Big Ten.

Iowa, however, bounced back. The Hawkeyes won their last seven conference games in a row and took the fifth seed at the conference tournament, going 1-1. They’re pretty much locked into a NCAA berth as they’re currently sitting at 24-7 and are 22nd in the RPI rankings.

And, of course, a big reason why is Gustafson. Over the final nine games of the season she averaged 29.6 points, including games of 48, 36, and 33. All but two of those games were double-doubles.

These are incredible numbers, but where is the buzz? And, really, where is the buzz about the Big Ten in general? Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was second in the nation in scoring, but was relegated to the second-team All-American list as well.

It starts with one simple fact: Only nine Big Ten women’s games were on national television and none included Iowa. In fact, the Hawkeyes were only on TV at all seven times this season.

It’s hard to show out if you’re one of the best players in the nation and no one can watch you.

As a source of comparison, 15 SEC games were on national television, with 50 more live on the SEC Network. Every single SEC women’s basketball game could have been found on WatchESPN. In the ACC, another 15 games were on either an ESPN network or FS1. All the other games were either available on FOX Sports Go, or WatchESPN. The Big Ten Network didn’t even show the opening rounds of its own conference women’s tournament because the men were having their tournament at the exact same time.

All this boils down to Iowa not really getting the exposure it should have perhaps gotten this season. It’s frustrating, but then again, many things are.

Like how Gustafson wasn’t even named to the Lisa Leslie Award, which goes to the nation’s top center. Or how four of the All-Americans were guards, with Wilson being the only true forward or center.

Megan Gustafson is Iowa’s single-season record-holder in points.

Megan Gustafson is Iowa’s single-season record-holder in rebounds, which she set last season and then broke again this year.

Megan Gustafson also holds Iowa’s single-season records in field goals made, free throws attempted, free throws made, and double-doubles. Speaking of double-doubles, she’s had more in her career (54) than any man or woman in Iowa history.

Megan Gustafson is the only Iowa player to score over 700 points in a season. She currently has 794.

Megan Gustafson is second all-time at Iowa in career rebounds (962), trailing leader Cindy Haugejorde by 105.

Megan Gustafson is sixth all-time at Iowa in career scoring (1774), trailing leader Ally Disterhoft by 328.

Megan Gustafson is just a junior.

Megan Gustafson might end up as the greatest Hawkeye of all time.