It’s a new season but a similar situation for Iowa. Once again, the Hawkeyes have lost their best player, with Aaron White departing a season after Roy Devyn Marble did. Still, that doesn’t mean the 2015-16 isn’t a promising campaign for Fran McCaffery’s team. Iowa returns a deep lineup with four returning starters, highlighted by forward Jarrod Uthoff. Time will tell how good Iowa turns out to be, but the Hawkeyes have the pieces to be a contending team.
So how do their newcomers fit in? With likely no starting spots open, the Hawkeyes six-player recruiting class will have to settle for fighting for minutes off the bench. Although not all of them will see significant time, a few should get some quality minutes. Here’s a look at each player and their chances at contributing next season.
As good as the Hawkeyes were at times last season, they weren’t particularly dangerous from behind the arc, shooting just 33.3 percent from three as a team. Fleming, a 6’5, 205 pound guard from Tennessee, should help improve that mark this season.
While shooting is definitely Fleming’s forte, it's not all he is capable of. The wing is also a capable ball handler who can shoot off the dribble and drive to the basket when he needs to. He’s not a superb defender, but he is a hard worker who will strive to get better on that end.
Where does he fit in McCaffery’s lineup? The Hawkeyes have last year’s starting shooting guard Peter Jok coming back, along with senior combo guard Anthony Clemmons and redshirt freshman two-guard Brady Ellington. That kind of depth will make it hard for Fleming to play more than 15 minutes a game, but the freshman has the ability to make an immediate contribution. Expect him to get consistent minutes as a shooter off the bench.
The final piece of Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class, Jones is power forward and junior college transfer who brings toughness and experience to the Hawkeyes. Last season at Tyler J.C. in Texas, Jones averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 45.1 percent from the field. At 6’8" and 220 pounds, he brings solid size, rebounding ability and shooting to a frontcourt that just lost its best player in White. It’s still unclear what the lineup will look like next season, with Uthoff potentially getting minutes at the four and sophomore Dom Uhl expected to be a big contributor, but Jones is another guy who should get decent minutes off the bench.
The Hawkeyes other new power forward, Wagner is an athletic player who projects to be a very good rebounder and versatile defender. He’s not huge at 6’7" and 215 pounds, but he makes up for it with his quickness and ability to attack the rim. The biggest area he needs to improve is his shooting, and that might hurt him in terms of getting playing time next season. Still, he’ll probably get the chance to prove himself during the non-conference slate, and he could always earn himself some minutes. Although he probably won’t get a ton of time next season, he should be a key player down the road.
A 6’6", 205-pound small forward, Hutton is another versatile and athletic player who gives Iowa even more depth on the wing. Though he has the ability to get to the rim and should develop into a good offensive player, his main role in the near future will be defense. Hutton can guard both twos and threes, and if he gets on the court next season it’ll likely be as a stopper. As mentioned above, Iowa has a number of players ahead of him on the depth chart, but Hutton could carve out a niche on defense if he proves himself early in the year.
Just when you thought the Hawkeyes had enough wings, here comes Moss, another freshman small forward with impressive athletic ability. Although he didn’t garner a ton of interest from other schools, the Chicago native is a good all-around player who could be a very good shooting guard or small forward in the future. At 6’5" and only 175 pounds though, he definitely needs to bulk up. That puts him a bit behind a guy like Hutton in terms of playing next season, but Moss could always win over the coaches and get some minutes.
A 6’6", 195-pound guard, Williams is a good ball-handler who can play both guard positions. Don’t expect him to see the court next season, as the Hawkeyes are set at shooting guard and have seniors Mike Gesell and Clemmons at point guard. It’s not definite he’ll redshirt, but it’s a good possibility.
While the Hawkeyes lack an incoming five-star stud like some of their Big Ten contemporaries, they have a deep recruiting class that should make plenty of noise down the road. As for next season, I’d bet on Fleming making the biggest impact, with Jones, Hutton and Wagner potentially contributing as well.