NEWCOMERS

Dale Jones is a JUCO out of Texas (but raised in Iowa) who could very well slide right into Aaron White’s power forward role in the Iowa starting lineup. He is 6’8″ 220lbs and has the same kind of inside/outside offensive package that made White such a tough cover. It’s always tough to project with JUCO players but it appears that Jones is set to play a key role for the Hawks this season. He hit 45% of his threes last year on a boatload of attempts, so at a minimum, they know he can stretch a defense. If he can rebound and defend well, Iowa should have a nice replacement for White.

Christian Williams is a 6’5″ combo guard from Illinois whom the Hawks believe in time could contribute at the point. With Gesell and Clemmons still on hand, it’s difficult to imagine major minutes for him as a freshman but long term, they think he can help at that lead guard position. His size alone makes him an intriguing prospect.

Isaiah Moss is a 6’6″ combo forward from Simeon High in Chicago. They think he could play anywhere on the perimeter in time, maybe even a bit at the point (we’ll see about that). Moss needs strength and probably a bit of time to acclimate to playing at the Big Ten level but he had offers from Auburn, Pitt and Iowa State among others, so there’s clearly some talent there. They’ve compared him a bit to Devyn Marble…that’s a tall order but gives you an idea as to his profile and tools as a player.

Ahmad Wagner is a 6’6″ combo forward (more of the wing/undersized 4 type than Moss or Williams, who lean toward perimeter combinations) who comes from Travis Trice’s HS in Ohio. So, we know he’s a state champion at that level playing for Travis Trice Sr. He fits the usual Ohio stereotypes…he’s an aggressive, physical player who has a high motor and they think can help inside and out, though his perimeter game reportedly needs to be developed some in terms of consistency.

Andrew Fleming is a 6’4″ wing guard from Tennesse who played at Oak Hill last season. He’s a shooter, first and foremost, though the stuff I’ve seen on him describes him as more “streaky” than consistent. Regardless, on a team which struggled some from deep last season, if he can prove capable of knocking down some shots early, he’ll stand a chance to carve out a rotation spot on that basis alone.

Brandon Hutton is a 6’6″ small forward from Chicago who comes from the same HS which produced Gavin Schilling (for one year at least) and Alvin Ellis, DeLaSalle. He’s more of a raw, athletic player than some of the other guys Iowa has added, with defense and energy being seen as his most obvious positives. He’ll reportedly need time to refine his jumper and handle but could see minuts due to defense and effort. Wisconsin wanted him, which says something about something…

OVERALL – Iowa returns a lot of guys who contributed for last year’s mildly surprising team, but they lost a lot in White and Olaseni. I think Uthoff is a heck of a cornerstone player for this team to have, though…he can score in a variety of ways, he’s aggressive and he can board and defend some bigger players at times. Iowa got a lot of mileage out of White’s knack for getting to the line. THat’s an area where Uthoff can improve and I believe he has the tools to do it…he’s got a good handle and is capable of getting past defenders.

I think the biggest question mark surrounds incoming JUCO Dale Jones. He has numbers at a good JUCO you can’t deny, but Iowa probably needs him to produce on the upper level of reasonable expectations if they’re to improve or even match last season’s finish. He doesn’t have to do everything White did but they could definitely use double digit scoring with good perimeter shooting and a decent rebounding effort from him. He’s a key because I don’t see a lot of other obvious candidates to fill that role. Uhl has potential but he’s probably another year away from being able to handle a starting role, and there aren’t a lot of other obvious candidates. So, Jones is a key newcomer to watch. If he’s good, I think Iowa can be a factor.

The incoming recruiting class seems heavy on a certain type outside of Jones. McCaffrey has added a bunch of long combo types, guys in the 6’4″-6’6″ range who can play a variety of positions. It’s inevitable that at least a couple of them end up in the rotation, as Fran likes to play a lot of guys if he can. Hard to say how good the class will be overall as none other than Jones are seen as immediate major impact guys, but yet none seem like serious project types either. What does seem clear is that Fran is looking to put a team on the floor with some perimeter length, athleticism and versatility.

I have Iowa 9th but this is a pretty decent looking team on paper. They don’t have a ton of size outside of Woodbury…if there’s a flaw in the roster, that’s probably it. They can also use some better jumpshooting but they seem to have added some guys capable of providing it. If Jones is as good as some believe, Iowa can earn a 3rd straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, but with the depth in this league, it’s not going to be an easy task to accomplish, even with a pretty good looking roster.