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2016-17 Iowa Hawkeyes Preview: The Wings

The word “wing” is McCafferian for interchangeable

NCAA Basketball: Northern Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing its preview series breaking down each Big Ten team. These will come in a set of series previewing the overall team, the team’s backcourt, wings, and big men, and the team’s schedule. Each post will take a look at its top in-depth and give predictions on the upcoming season.

Before we even begin, let’s get the formalities out of the way:

BTPowerhouse Preview - Iowa Wings

Departures: Anthony Clemmons

Additions: Isaiah Moss, Maishe Daily

Top Player: Peter Jok

Starting Rotation

The Iowa “wing” position (a spot on the floor that six or so Hawkeyes will call their own during the season) is loaded with young, unproven talent. If you have taken time out of your busy day to read this post, I’m going to wager that you’ve thought about what the frontcourt and wings will look like during the beginning, middle and end of this upcoming basketball season. I’d also bet that you’ve talked yourself into a player (or three or four or five) that can — if everything goes right — come out of thin air and play well beyond anything we thought possible to help this team sneak in a couple of extra wins (Iowa is currently projected to finish 9-9 in the Big Ten conference by KenPom’s latest 2017 rankings).

If the Hawkeyes plan on heading back to the NCAA Tournament, it will be a necessity.

While it’s still early and we have yet to see a handful of these guys play outside of summer ball, there’s undoubtedly plenty of talent for this coaching staff to pick from to fill in the voids left behind by the graduated seniors from last year.

Like six players plenty.

When it comes to the “wing” both offensively and defensively, it’s going to be somewhat of a position-less, fluid monster; one in which wings are forwards are point guards are wings. For example, Peter Jok (who split most of his time at two and three last year) is going to be used in ways we have never seen. He’ll be the main ball handler at times, a post player at times and a shooter all of the times.

Someone like Isaiah Moss and Nicholas Baer should realistically be able to play four positions on the floor and their effortless transition from shooting guard to small forward to small ball four is going to be paramount for this team moving forward.

As observers of Hawkeyes under McCaffery, we’ve already seen his willingness to play guys that deserve to be on the floor, even if it means it’s “out of position”. Take Ahmad Wagner for example, last year he ended up playing more minutes as a traditional “three” than any other position on the floor. If you were to ask me at this time last year if that was going to be a thing, I would’ve laughed at you.

Things aren’t going to be “black and white” out on the perimeter. Honestly, I’d be shocked if we saw anyone outside of Jok man a position for more than 50% of the total available minutes. Almost every player on this roster is going to be expected to understand the role and functions of two or three positions and if they can perform up to the level McCaffery believes they can, Iowa is going to pretty damn exciting to watch.

Don’t believe me?

I’m sure you’ll take McCaffery’s word on it. During the Big Ten Media Conferences, Iowa’s head coached flirted with the idea that Tyler Cook, who looks every bit the part of a dominant post player, could potentially become a college basketball Transformer:

“You know, he'll line up in the forward position, but you'll see him bring it down. You'll see him post-up. You'll see him shoot threes, attack the rim, playing ball screen action, and that's what I told him when we recruited him, that we'll utilize him that way.”

“He has typically been a prototype 4 man with that body, and he can do that. The key for us and the key for him is going to be to making sure that while he's dribbling the ball and shooting threes, he still gets after it on the glass and is up around 10 rebounds a game, which is not easy.”

McCaffery is going to try things out. He’s going to put players, especially early, in positions of vulnerability. He’s going to test their mental capacity. And the guys that overcome those obstacles while making plays will surely become consistent rotation players when they tip off at Purdue on December 28th.

Overall

I’ve talked a ton about Moss this off season and I think he’s not only going to steal minutes, but your hearts. Nicholas Baer will have every opportunity to take on a bigger role than the one he saw last season (which I can’t wait for). Dale Jones is once again healthy and has shown the ability to fill it up from the outside (something Iowa will desperately need). Dom Uhl surely wants to play on the wing, but will probably be forced into playing a majority of his minutes in the post. Brady Ellingson has been around but is by in large a question mark. Maishe Dailey will probably get redshirted. And of course, there’s Jok, who is going to be an All-Big Ten performer assuming health and should provide the necessary spacing that these young bucks can take advantage of.

Things may seem uncertain now, but with as much raw talent that Iowa has at the “wing” position, I’m expecting to be pleasantly surprised at what we’ll get once the conference slate begins.