Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball: Who's the Most Important Incoming Freshman?
In 2011, head basketball coach Fran McCaffery completed his first ever Big Ten recruiting class by signing a raw beanstalk from London, the Cedar Rapids version of Matt Gatens, and a skinny ginger from Ohio.
It didn't look like much.
Many began to wonder if Iowa would ever obtain a recruiting class that bolstered some of the most talented seniors within the giant pool of Midwestern ballers. A continuous question that has been pounded into their brains, quite possibly from all of the dribbling former coach Todd Lickliter insisted upon in the offensive attack.
There seemed to be such a continual overlapping of distrust that most fans even wanted McCaffery to go against his better judgement and use his remaining scholarship on junior college players.
Thankfully, White Magic don't play that.
Enter the freshman class of 2012, a highly-touted and extremely well-rounded group of talented players ready to establish themselves as important future stock. After having gone through a few weeks of their freshman classes, what better time for their first debate?
Which incoming Hawkeye freshman is most important to the future of the program?
No. 5: Kyle Meyer, the Back Up Plan
If ex-Kansas center Cole Aldridge and former Hawkeye backup Andrew Brommer had a child deep in the cornfields of the glorious Midwest, Kyle Meyer would be the outcome.
As much as that comparison should deem a starting nod at any elite college program, it won't be enough to make an immediate splash in the Franimal House.
The 6'10" center is walking into a tough position at Iowa. He will be battling classmate Adam Woodbury, sophomore and London beanstalk Gabe Olaseni, hopeful Big Ten 6th Man of the Year Zach McCabe, sophomore Aaron White, and junior Malsahn Basabe for minutes.
Meyer is better when facing the rim and has a lot of work to do in the post game (something that will keep him sidelined once Big Ten season rolls around). If he can develop that offensive side of his game while adding the strength needed to become a minutes-eater when Iowa is in foul trouble, Meyer could be an extremely versatile piece for McCaffery's bench depth down the road.
With that said, Meyer can run. He can jump. He can rebound. And based on the video above, he can double dribble and dunk, too.
That athletic ability could end up being enough to warrant minutes down the line, but I don't see that happening, barring a major injury to one of the five guys ahead of him.
Best Case Scenario: a poor man's Blake Griffin (athletic, better when facing the rim, freak of nature)
Worst Case Scenario: a poor man's Andrew Brommer
No. 4: Anthony Clemmons, the Career Second Stringer
Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat: Anthony Clemmons is not going to win any awards for having the prettiest shot in college basketball.
We squared? Good.
Clemmons is essentially Mr. Fundamentals. He can dish, he can defend, he can run an offense. He'll never be out of place on defense and will run the offensive sets to perfection. He'll create shots for his teammates by drawing pressure while driving into the paint from the top of the key. He will, more times than not, make the best "basketball" decision.
That will get him playing time.
Well, that added to the fact that he is one of two natural point guards on the Hawkeyes roster.
It should be interesting to see how Clemmons develops. He should get immediate playing time during the cupcake, out-of-conference schedule Iowa has this season, which will pay massive dividends come tournament time.
Best Case Scenario: Iowa's version of Kendall Marshall
Worst Case Scenario: Jeff Peterson
No. 3: Iowa's First Slasher Film Starring Patrick Ingram
Patrick Ingram. Oh, Patrick Ingram. How I'm most excited about you and I'm not quite sure why.
It could be the pure athletic ability you posses as an 18-year old. It could be your stature (6'2", 190 lbs). It could be because for five minutes straight, I just watched you blow past defenders, cut to the rack, and score with both hands with no real issue.
It's probably more due to the fact that Iowa hasn't had a consistent player dominate and create in the middle of the floor in years.
Or maybe it's just how perfect you fit into Iowa's offensive system.
Ingram is a runner. He's a finisher. He's that scrappy, in your face, beat you down the court, score, pick your pocket and score again type player that every college basketball fan loves watching.
The knock against Ingram is his inability to hit jumpers from more than 15 feet and his lack of rebounding skills.
Who cares about rebounding when you can run down the court and score on fast break after fast break?
The shooting touch comes with reps in the gym and the rebounding comes with opportunity.
I'm not worried about either being an issue at Iowa.
Ingram might have the biggest ceiling of all of the players coming into McCaffery's system. Let's face it, he is already a pretty complete player possessing skills Division I players would kill for.
As an athletic wing, he is able to get on the floor due to his defensive prowess. He'll be able to stay on the floor with his ability to score in contact.
Look out for Ingram coming to an arena by you.
Best NBA Comparison: Tyreke Evans
Worst Case Scenario: former Hawkeye, Tony Freeman
No. 2: Woodbury Farms
I've made my thoughts on Adam Woodbury clear in my Bold Predictions piece earlier this week.
Upon further review.....I am sticking by them wholeheartedly.
Since I am not one to beat a dead horse, let me simply add a quick note for those who may be in doubt of what Woodbury can bring to the table (or may not be bringing to the table).
The seven foot freshman is GOING to struggle from the charity stripe, lets all get used to this now.
Take a minute. Swish it around a little. We good? Do you accept the things you cannot change?
Harping on Woodbury's free throw percentage in an attempt to pick through his overall skills is a bit foolish. He is a basketball "BIG" and in the history of the entire sport of basketball, "BIGs" generally have their issues shooting foul shots.
If he scores 15 points, grabs 9-10 rebounds and gets the opposition's best low-post players into foul trouble consistently while shooting, say, 40% at the line, are you going to show up to his dorm room with torch in hand?
Look, the kid didn't obtain the rankings he did from the likes of Scout and ESPN because he's a good looking kid or because he's the best free throw shooter outside of your nearest Dave and Buster's.
We all need to remember that while he figures the college basketball game out.
No. 1: Mike Gesell, Mr. Important
Don't read a word beyond this sentence until you watch the entirety of that video.
Don't push pause! Watch it. I can wait.
This footage was taken during the summer's Prime Time League in North Liberty, Iowa. Mike Gesell, as a freshman, ran rampant. He put on a clinic.
It was extremely difficult for me to decide between Gesell and Adam Woodbury for the top spot of this column, as it really comes down to what you value most as a basketball fan.
I love the flash-and-slash game, which is why I have Ingram ranked as highly as I do. So instead of losing all credibility by putting the shooting guard at the top of this list, I tried to think like White Magic for a minute.
What player/position allows Iowa's offense and defense to flourish? A seven footer with good feet and ball handling skills or a point guard who could walk onto Kirk Ferentz's football team?
He'd take the overly competitive point guard every day of the week, and here's why:
Last year, Iowa used an assortment of options at point guard. Bryce Cartwright was the only true ball handler on the roster. Roy Devyn Marble filled in admirably, but was always better suited off the ball The same went for Oglesby and Gatens, who also filled in from time to time.
In fact, since Tony Freeman departed Iowa City for Southern Illinois back in 2008, the Hawkeyes have used Cartwright, Gatens (who sometimes was the only player able to bring the basketball up the court), Marble, Cully Payne, John Lickliter, Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, Jermain Davis and Anthony Tucker as point guards.
That's eight different players, and I'm sure I'm missing someone, too.
That's a heap of non-Big Ten level point guard talent.
Gesell has to turn the page on that era and rewrite the story starting in 2012-2013.
He has to claim the starting point guard roll by the start of the Big Ten season this year, allowing Marble to revert back to his natural position.
Back to the video. As you could tell, Gesell can knock down mid-range and long-range jumpers off the catch or by using a quick dribble. He isn't the best facilitator as much as he is a scorer, but that will hopefully come with practice and established roles. He is a little undersized to play the shooting guard position, but he can body up with both the one and two positions, using his competitive edge to keep him in amongst those bigger guards.
The best part about the prospects of Gesell is that every article or scouting report always defers back to one aspect of his game as proof of future successes: he is a competitor, bar none.
Possible NBA Comparison: Kirk Hinrich circa 2004-2007 (16.06 PPG and 6.3 APG while being the true floor general of the "Baby Bulls")