The Hawkeyes lost four talented senior starters from last year's NCAA tournament team. Adam Woodbury, Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell, and Anthony Clemmons have all come and gone for Fran McCaffery and that leaves a fairly large hole that will need to be filled by younger players.
The four seniors combined to score nearly 45 points per game for the Hawkeyes with Uthoff leading the way at 19 per contest. Gesell, Clemmons, and Woodbury weren't regarded as potent scorers but still were able to give the Hawkeyes around 8 or 9 a game apiece.
Iowa returns Jok's 16 points per game, which likely turns into around 19-20 this season. But after that their next scorer came in at six points per game last season, and that was Dom Uhl.
Uhl showed flashes last season, especially early on, that he could be a reliable scorer for the Hawkeyes. He had games of 18, 15, 14, and 10 all within the first nine games. On the flip side, he also had a couple games where he did not score at all. Games against Notre Dame and Wichita State were ones in which Uhl did not score.
Uhl then hit a stretch where he scored at least eight points in 7 of 8 games for the Hawkeyes. This was huge considering how much they were getting from their seniors. When you throw in 8-10 from your sixth man, it makes you really hard to beat, which is exactly what Iowa was for that stretch. They were 7-1 in those eight games.
After that little stretch of games, Uhl's production dropped off. His high for the rest of the season would be seven and it came in round one of the NCAA tournament against Temple. The Hawkeyes would go just 3-5 over the next eight games with Uhl scoring right around 2.5 points per game.
Now, it wasn't just Uhl, it was the majority of the bench production that had pretty much disappeared. Dale Jones, an experienced guy they were likely going to rely on went down after just six games, Brady Ellingson hadn't quite reached a point where he could be relied upon to give Fran McCaffery good minutes, Nicholas Baer's production had dropped just a touch, Ahmad Wagner was never really relied upon as a scorer considering most of his baskets came off of put backs and other garbage buckets, and Christian Williams wasn't seeing any real playing time due to the fact that Iowa basically had two point guards on the floor in Clemmons and Gesell.
Uhl will likely be thrust into a starting role this season, so Iowa will look for more consistent production from the junior forward. He had an improved three point shot in the early part of last season and looked to be more aggressive as opposed to his freshman season. Iowa is hoping he's regained that form.
Dale Jones could be another option off the bench. Jones, participated in just six games last season before he went down and likely would've been a nice piece off the bench. He totaled 16 points in Iowa's second game against Coppin State and was 9-20 from three early on in the season before he went down. Iowa likely tries to work him back slowly, but once he gets settled in and assuming he stays healthy, he could find his way into the starting lineup before the season is over.
Brady Ellingson is going to be kind of a wild card this season. He shot just 27% from three last season, which isn't going to cut it especially when you're on the floor primarily to make three point baskets. He scored 20 points in the game against Coppin State and had a nice performance on the road at Purdue when he drained two huge three pointers for the Hawkeyes as they had to come back to defeat the Boilers on the road.
Outside of those two games, Ellingson saw his playing time diminish late into the season and after that Purdue game, he scored just two total points in the last eight games that he took part in. If Ellingson finds his shot this season, he'll play, but only if he finds a consistent three point shot.
Former walk-on Nicholas Baer was the surprise of the season last year. As a redshirt freshman, Baer averaged five points and three boards a game. Now that he's on scholarship and has a year under his belt, Baer could take a step forward. He surprised a lot of people by scoring eight points in 24 minutes against Wichita State and then scoring 14 points in 15 minutes against UMKC. But his real coming out party came in the middle of December when Iowa took on Drake in the Big Four Classic in Des Moines, IA. Baer was an animal over the course of the 30 minutes he spent on the court. He ended the game with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks. That was when people started to take note of Nicholas Baer.
He followed that up with games scoring 19 and 11 against Tennessee Tech and Michigan State, respectively.
Baer was part of that bench mob that was so crucial to Iowa's early success last season and might continue to come off the bench this season due to the spark that he gives the team when he does enter. The kid is one of the hardest workers on this Iowa team, and that is a big reason why he has been successful over the course of his first couple of years in Iowa City.
Wagner, like Baer, made his living working hard on the glass and keeping possession's alive for his team. Wagner ended his true freshman season averaging 3 points and 3 rebounds for Iowa, but he always seemed to give them solid minutes. His best game came in early March when Iowa lost at home to Indiana. Wagner totaled 11 points and 9 rebounds in 17 minutes on the floor.
I would probably expect much of the same this season from Ahmad. He doesn't have a true jump shot, but did shoot 68% from the field last season. He's going to give you a ton of effort and he also gives you a strong, athletic four/five to really battle as the Big Ten season can wear on players.
Williams, who'll likely be the team's point guard this season, came on nicely late in the year last season. He averaged right around 3 points per game in his last five and showcased what he was going to be able to give Iowa this season. He's still a raw player at this point, but he isn't your typical Iowa point guard. The last four seasons we've seen guys like Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons man the point guard spot. Well, Williams is about 5 inches taller than both of those players and with his length creates problems for opposing points. Although Clemmons and Gesell were two of the more pesky point guards in the Big Ten when it came to defense in their time.
I'd like to see him utilize the mid-range jumper and work on getting to the basket. Utilizing his length to get around defenders and to the rim is what I'd like to see this season from Williams. Hopefully he can build off a strong end to his freshman season.
Other notable guys include, redshirt freshman, Isaiah Moss, who considered his redshirt season a "blessing in disguise" could be a guy that surprises people and has a very significant impact for this Iowa team. It's hard to tell right now because we've never seen him play in a Big Ten game, but I surely think the talent is there and he'll be a key guy off the bench for this team who could possibly see starters minutes if he plays well.
The true freshmen include, Tyler Cook, Cordell Pemsel, Jordan Bohannon, Ryan Kriener, Maishe Dailey and Riley Till who will walk on. Tyler Cook was the most touted recruit in this class for Iowa out of Chaminade Prep in Missouri, but Bohannon was Iowa's Mr. Basketball after he averaged 25 points per game and buried 94 three pointers during his senior campaign. Both Pemsl and Kriener averaged near 20 points per game in high school with Pemsl averaging a double-double for Dubuque Wahlert. Dailey averaged right around 13 points for his team in Ohio, but to me he is a candidate to redshirt this season given the fact that Iowa is really set at the 1 and 2 spots. Also, I think with his length and slenderness, redshirting for a season could help him a lot in terms of getting bigger and stronger.
Cook looks like an early candidate to claim the 5 spot for Fran McCaffery. He's about as athletic as they come and his body is already Big Ten ready. One of Pemsl and Kriener will likely redshirt, but I think both players could be productive in their true freshman seasons. Kriener gives Iowa good height and can also stretch the floor considering he can make outside shots. Pemsl gives the Hawkeyes another big bruiser on the inside, but isn't quite as tall as Kriener is. I had the privilege of watching Pemsl play live and he impressed me greatly.
Uhl and Jones are the two most likely candidates to help out Jok in the scoring department. I can envision Uhl at around 10-12 points per game with Jones right behind at 8-10. Tyler Cook could be in that same range as Jones. Williams likely won't give the Hawkeyes much scoring, but if he can get the ball to guys like Jok, Bohannon, and Moss on the edges, he becomes extremely valuable. Baer and Wagner will give you 5-7 and will work their butts off. Moss is my dark horse pick to finish second on the team in scoring this season.
Overall, this Iowa team is young. They lack a lot of experience, but they're athletic and extremely talented. Give them the non-conference to fine tune things and I can see them playing well during their Big Ten slate. I'm not willing to say they'll make the tournament because I think they are going to lose some games they likely shouldn't, but I think it could go the other way and they may win some they shouldn't as well.
Getting consistent scoring behind a talented scorer like Jok will be a major key for Iowa this season.null