Gustafson continues to grind as professional

The road hasn’t been easy so far in Megan Gustafson’s professional basketball career, but much like her career at Iowa, she is not going to let any roadblocks get in her way.

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Gustafson continues to grind as professional

Iowa center Megan Gustafson shoots the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Iowa center Megan Gustafson shoots the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Katina Zentz

Iowa center Megan Gustafson shoots the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa center Megan Gustafson shoots the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

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Megan Gustafson cemented herself as a Hawkeye legend during her historic senior season in the Black and Gold. The consensus national Player of the Year took the court at Carver-Hawkeye and not only rewrote the Iowa women’s basketball record book, she created her own chapter. Now a professional, Gustafson has faced obstacle after obstacle, but rather than let that stop her, she instead used the adversity as motivation.

The logical next step for Gustafson after graduation was the WNBA, where projections had her off the board toward the end of the 12-pick first round on April 10.

Then the first round ended. Gustafson still waited.

The camera routinely focused its glare on Gustafson, who anxiously awaited the moment her name would be announced to the world. Simultaneously, Iowa Twitter-users took turns informing each passing team how wrong they all were for overlooking their beloved Hawkeye.

By the 17th overall pick, the Dallas Wings finally selected Gustafson. Later than she likely would have liked, the now-professional player stayed positive during her time on the stage and said how she will use this draft slide as motivation.

The chip on Gustafson’s shoulder then only grew larger.

The Port Wing, Wisconsin, native was released by Dallas before the beginning of the regular season. Gustafson only played 23 minutes in three preseason games for Dallas, never being given a significant stretch to prove her worth.

Before she could get her feet wet in the WNBA, the reigning First Team All-American, Big Ten Player of the Year, and Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year found herself unemployed. Draft analysts had questioned Gustafson’s height and defensive capabilities prior to the Wings selecting her, and despite all the awards attached to her name, it appears Dallas agreed with those critiques.

RELATED: Gustafson named Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year

While Gustafson maintained a positive public attitude through the ordeal, her fans did not.

People across the state of Iowa took the release of one of their favorite athletes poorly. It was as if Dallas had personally offended every person who called the Hawkeye State home. Gustafson had become a fan favorite for her humble demeanor and unmatched production on the court, so Iowa fans did not pull any punches when letting Dallas know how they felt.

As she awaited her next opportunity in the WNBA, Gustafson announced plans to participate in The Basketball Tournament. She was invited to join the Iowa United, a team already headlined by former Hawkeyes Peter Jok and Nicholas Baer.

That opportunity never came to fruition, however — the Wings brought Gustafson back on June 13 after the team stumbled out to an 0-5 start. Gustafson was a WNBA free agent while she was preparing to work with Iowa United, and she did not waste any time getting back into the league when Dallas approached her for the second time.

The team is 4-2 since bringing Gustafson and her unmatched talent in the Mikan drill back, which Iowa fans will say is no coincidence. She averages 5.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in her second stint for the Wings.

Gustafson seems to be settled in Dallas at the moment, but that does not mean she does not have different news to share. To begin the month of July, Gustafson announced on Twitter that the next step of her career will be playing for NKE-Csata in Budapest, Hungary, during the WNBA offseason.

The move currently sits as the top story on the Hungarian women’s basketball website.

The road for Gustafson as a professional to this point has been full of twists and turns. However, if the process has proven one thing, it is that no matter the team, no matter the uniform, the state of Iowa will always be there for Gustafson, cheering her on.

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