Iowa natives turn Truman State into a Hawkeye state

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 6:36 PM CST
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KIRKSVILLE, Missouri (KCRG) - Truman State is an NCAA Division II university in Kirksville, Missouri. But it might as well be called “Iowa south.”

Listening to the player introductions, a neutral fan might raise an eyebrow.

“A 6-foot-2 freshman from Iowa City...”

“Out of Cedar Rapids...”

“From Eldridge, Iowa...”

All five starters hail from Iowa, so do 11 of the 15 team members. It’s by design.

“Everyone knows each other from high school. Over the summer we hang out,” said freshman guard Masen Miller, who hails from Iowa City Regina. “We’ve got great chemistry.”

The chemist? He’s from Iowa too. Jeff Horner is a former Iowa Mr. Basketball from Mason City. He’s also a four-year starter from the Hawkeyes.

“I know the state really well,” Horner said. “I know the AAU and high school coaches.”

Horner admits to a pretty intense coaching style, but he connects with his players.

“I like playing for him, he is always pushing us.” said Hunter Strait, a junior guard from Cedar Rapids. “He gets on us but that is what we need. He is an Iowa guy. I guess he likes the way us Iowa guys play.”

“When you recruit Iowa kids, you know what you are getting,” Horner said. “You are getting tough, hard-nosed kids that love basketball and want to come in and win.”

The Iowa connection is paying off. The Bulldogs made it to the Elite 8 of the 2021 Division II tournament.

“We know what it takes to get there. We know what it will take to get beyond that point,” said Miller. “We are determined and ready to go.”

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