3 Iowa Connections in Tonight’s Men’s National Championship Game
The one-seed Kansas Jayhawks will faceoff with the eight-seed North Carolina Tar Heels in tonight's NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game tonight at 8:20 on TBS. The battle of these blue-blood programs takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tonight's game will be one for the history books, as both teams are absolutely loaded with talent. Ochai Agbaji was a Naismith National Player of the Year Finalist for Kansas (18.1 ppg, 5.1 rebounds), Remy Martin is scoring at will (led the Jayhawks in scoring last three games 23, 20, 15), guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis are playing out of their minds so far in the tournament for UNC (Love averaging 20 ppg, Davis 14.6), and Armando Bacot has been a force around the rim for the Tar Heels (16.8 rebounds per game in the tournament).
Not only that, but Kansas' Bill Self, one of the winningest basketball coaches of all time, will take on a first-year head coach in the Tar Heels' Hubert Davis.
This is going to be fun.
And Iowans have more than just those reasons to be invested. There are three connections to the Hawkeye State in tonight's game.
Quartlebaum is currently the director of basketball operations for Kansas. Prior to 2020, he served as the director of student-athlete development, a position he started in June of 2013.
According to the KU Athletics website, Quartlebaum does the following in his role: "In this, he handles many day-in and day-out logistics and procedures with the student-athletes and staff. Included has been Quartlebaum heading KU men’s basketball’s social injustice initiatives to educate and act toward the issues that have arose in the U.S. Additionally, Quartlebaum is on the University of Kansas Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Committee and participates in the Pre-Game Chalk Talks prior to home contests informing season ticket holders scouting tips about upcoming contests."
His connection to Iowa is minimal, but still there. Quartlebaum served as an assistant for one season under head coach Wayne Morgan at Iowa State during the 2003-2004 season. The Cyclones went 20-13 and failed to make the NCAA Tournament that year.
Joseph Yesufu is a native of Bolingbrook, Illinois, and started his collegiate basketball career playing for Drake. The 6'0, sophomore averaged 12.8 points while shooting 38% from three and averaging one steal over 24 minutes per contest for the Bulldogs in 2020-2021. Over his final nine games that season, Yesufu averaged 23.2 points.
He started the final seven games of the season and won the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Sixth Man of the Year. He was also selected to be part of the league’s all-bench and most improved teams and named to the 2021 MVC All-Tournament.
Through his tenure so far in Lawrence, he has averaged just 2.1 points and one assist in 9.2 minutes per game.
Due to his minimal play this season, Yesufu has been a point of reference when speaking of players in the MVC who decide to enter the portal for a shot at playing for a Power-5 Conference school, as we've discussed on Cornstalks and Sports Talk (our Iowa-based sports show you should check out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or live on Saturday mornings on AM950 or KOEL.com).
Formerly a graphic designer for UNI Athletics and a student at UNI, Brett Foreman has quickly ascended the ranks in his professional career. He's now with the Kansas Athletic Department, and he does incredible work.
Here are some of the graphics he's put together for KU Athletics:
He's elevated his game to be among the best, but he's been doing it for a long time, too. Check out some of his UNI work: