Iowa's 2015 recruiting should be the foundation for its future under Coach Fran McCaffery. Isaiah Moss and Brandon Hutton are two athletic wings, who can guard multiple positions, attack the rim and hit outside jumpers. Ahmad Wagner is a different kind of player, but someone who could be a difference maker.
Ahmad Wagner's a 6'7", 215 pound, power forward from Ohio. He played for Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio. (ESPN rates him as a 3-star recruit.) And, his natural position, power forward suited him very well in high school; however, he'll be a tad undersized playing the four in college. Either way, there's a lot to like about his game.
Wagner, as I mentioned above, played the four in high school. He seemed to spend a good deal of time playing in pick and rolls and with his back to the basket. It'll be interesting to see how his game transitions to the Big Ten.
Even though he may not have prototypical size for a power forward, he's a very strong, athletic player. Wagner will blow by slower, plodding defenders, which will help Iowa use his quickness and size to their advantage.
When Wagner has an opportunity to attack the rim, he does. Generally, if he can catches and has an open lane to the basket, he'll finish above the rim and with authority. (In fact, on a couple occasions, he can drop step and elevate for a powerful finish, without taking a dribble.) Opportunities near the basket generally don't go wasted when the ball's in Wagner's hands.
For such a powerful athlete, he does catch the ball well in traffic, and he has great touch around the rim. If Wagner has a direct line drive, he can take that and finish through contact. His free throw shooting is above average, and he'll make teams pay for fouling him. At 6'7", Wagner's an excellent rebounder, which isn't a surprise considering his length, athletic ability and effort.
Wagner will be a versatile defensive player. Listed as a power forward, I could see him guarding threes and maybe twos in a pinch. Either way, he'll fit right with Iowa's defensive strategy, especially on the perimeter. Wagner could easily switch to a guard in a pick and roll, and Iowa wouldn't be vulnerable to devastating drives. His versatility on defense will be a huge asset.
Areas for Improvement:
He can shoot, but he'll need to develop a little more of a midrange game. It'll open up driving lanes, and make his game more versatile. He played so exclusively in the paint and rolling to the basket that he'll need to round out his game a bit more.
It looks like he can run the break, but his ball handling will need a bit more work, if that'll be a regular occurrence. He won't be their primary ball handler by any means, but based on this recruiting class, it would seem that Coach McCaffery's putting together a group of (fairly) interchangeable parts.
He'll need to get stronger, but that'll come as he matures in the program. Wagner will always be undersized if he plays the four, but he's competitive and plays hard.
Ahmad Wagner will be a good player for the Iowa Hawkeyes. He's athletic and plays with effort. He'll get stronger, but his size will make the transition a bit more difficult, especially considering where he played in high school. But, from listening to him, Wagner understands the game and is excited to join the Iowa program.
Wagner fills a role and fits what Iowa wants. He's aggressive, tough and plays above the rim. It's another great building block added in 2015.