The Iowa Hawkeyes are off to a fast start in 2015, complete with a dominating performance over Marquette most recently. It was win number 350 for coach Fran McCaffery, but he'd rather talk about the team's balance. They certainly share the ball, against Marquette six players finished in double figures. But, they also have great experience as the starting lineup is composed of four seniors and a junior.
Most certainly, Iowa will look different next season. Let's take a look at what they have coming and where they seem to be focusing.
Next year, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons will be gone (due to graduation). They both have played huge minutes for the Hawkeyes and will be a large part of the backcourt's success going forward. Fortunately, Peter Jok will return for his senior season and he'll be experienced enough to anchor a decisively younger backcourt (or so we think).
Of course next year's starting lineup could boast more experience than expected, considering the fact that McCaffery has two JUCO transfers in Michael and Steve Soukup (who could play large minutes next year) or even Pat Ingram and Trey Dickerson, who are also JUCO transfers. However, McCaffery still has have quite a few freshmen waiting for an opportunity and he may struggle to get younger players minutes. It's one of the more indifferent problems to have because they will benefit from a talented, experienced backcourt this season, but could potentially sacrifice developing their younger players.
Isaiah Moss, from Simeon High School in Chicago, is athletic and very skilled offensively. Moss will be a part of the backcourt's foundation, probably not this year, but certainly he'll get opportunities this season. His athleticism is evident and he'll have no trouble competing in the Big Ten, once he acclimates. With Moss creating and getting to the rim, Andrew Fleming can stretch the floor. He's a great complement for athletic wings who attack. Fleming himself can put the ball on the floor a bit, but primarily he could be a devastating shooter.
Brandon Hutton is the final key freshman. He's quite athletic, but perhaps needs to refine his game a bit. Hutton will certainly have the opportunity to grow into a role; Iowa's pretty set in the backcourt for this year and probably next year. The freshmen intrigue me, more so than the experience on the roster. I feel like the ceiling for this group is high, if the freshmen can develop over time. Not only that, but the younger talent may fit McCaffery's style a bit more in the long term.
Much like the backcourt, this group is heavy with experience. Jarrod Uthoff, probably the team's best player, will graduate after this season. Adam Woodbury (7'1", C) will also conclude his collegiate career in 2015-2016. However, McCaffery has filled the pipeline with talent. Dale Jones and Kyle Meyer are both JUCO transfers. Also in the mix is Dom Uhl, a sophomore forward who could see action this season.
They also have Ahmad Wagner from this year's class waiting for an opportunity, as well as three signed froncourt players in next year's class: Tyler Cook (highly-touted), Cordell Pemsl and Ryan Kriener. Cook comes in as a four star recruit and could be key to Iowa's success down the line, while the addition of Pemsl and Kriener should help the foundation for the frontcourt in the future.
All of this means McCaffery has talent coming. He'll have lineup flexibility and some solid competition in practice. Considering McCaffery's recent use of a deep rotation, bringing in numerous youngsters means Fran should be able to continue to utilize one of the deeper rotations in the conference.
McCaffery's done a good job to load talent into the pipeline. Next season the Hawkeyes could have quite a few JUCO transfers playing large minutes, helping remedy the mass exodus of talent with a roster dependent on upperclassmen. Not to discredit those transfers, but it's almost as if McCaffery's signed them to bridge a gap between this current crop of seniors, and the next generation of talented freshmen.
Again, while I don't want to discredit the transfers, but the future of Iowa is clearly tied to this year's class and probably even next year's class. Good or bad, the young talent on the roster won't see the floor much. They won't be pressed into larger roles before they're ready, but it'll prevent any trial-by-fire growth.
Either way, the Iowa Hawkeyes' future looks bright. The only question is if we'll see a roster next year full of inexperience or if Fran will try to round out the minutes with some more experienced JUCO transfers to keep the rotation from being so green.