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Iowa Hoops Off-Season Improvements: Ahmad Wagner

As we get into the summer months, Hawkeye Insider will be taking a look at what the returning Hawkeyes need to do to improve their games before the season arrives in November. Today, we look at Ahmad Wagner.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Ahmad Wagner is; athleticism.  This is a kid that possesses great explosiveness and is a rare athlete.  He was a four star wide receiver out of Huber Heights, OH and could've played wide-out at the University of Kentucky.  Instead, he chose to come to Iowa and play some hoops.

Lucky for Ahmad, he was no slouch on the basketball court either.  Rated a three star prospect by Scout, he had some rounding out to do, but the raw talent was there.

He played in 32 games as a true freshman for the Hawkeyes and was a key cog in a bench mob that was stellar for most of the season.  He averaged nearly three points and three boards per contest in about 10 minutes played per game.  He had bright spots where he showed he was really going to be able to help this team in his final three years as a Hawkeye.

In early March, he recorded 11 points and nine rebounds in a home loss to Indiana.  He was 5/6 from the floor in 17 minutes played, which tied his second highest output over the course of the season in terms of minutes played.

While Ahmad had bright spots as a freshman, he did play like a freshman at points during the season.  But that is to be expected with a young, raw kid.  

He had some solid outings in non-conference play, but would then struggle at points during the Big Ten regular season.  During the stretch where Iowa lost five out of six games from early February into March, Wagner totaled just 15 points and 11 of them came in one game.  He was never relied upon to score the ball a lot, but Iowa did need production from it's bench when the starters got tired, and they didn't get it during that stretch of games.

As the summer wears on, Wagner really needs to work on developing more of a back-to-the-basket game, to go along with a jump shot.  Most of his baskets came on offensive rebounds or when he had a first step on a defender.  With four starers graduating and Wagner likely being thrust into a starting role, he's going to have to give Iowa 6-10 points per game.  

He'll need to be practicing some free throws as well.  Wagner shot just 51% at the line in his freshman season and if that doesn't improve, teams will be looking to foul him late in games.  And Iowa is going to need him on the floor for his rebounding and his athleticism.  I would like to see that number climb into the 60's next season.

The one thing he'll have going for him heading into next season is he'll probably be one of the most athletic guys on the court when he's out there.  I think he's going to be able to take bigger defenders off the dribble and get to the rim with relative ease.  He's only about 6'7" so he's going to be undersized almost every night out.  It'd really be nice to see him utilize his athletic ability against bigger defenders and drive that ball to the rim.

He has some work to do, but with an extended role in his sophomore season, Wagner should turn a lot of heads.

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