The Iowa Hawkeyes basketball season is approaching fast. This season brings with it more excitement and anticipation than the Hawkeyes have seen since the Horner and Brunner days.
Fran McCaffery's squad will attempt to be in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid, and possibly even compete for a Big Ten Title.
The Hawkeyes have finalized their roster and have held an open practice at Carver Hawkeye Arena for the public to get their first glimpse of the 2011-2012 Hawks.
The Hawkeyes have some familiar faces, like senior Matt Gatens, and some new faces that fans will become familiar with quickly.
Here is a list ranking all of the current Hawkeyes and their ranking according to my predicted values to the team. This is a sort of preseason MVP ranking to gauge who will likely be the least valuable to who will be the move valuable to the Hawkeyes success this season.
Cody Cox is a sophomore from Waterloo West High School in Waterloo, Iowa. Cox walked on last year and is listed at 6'4/194.
Cox saw action in three games last year, totaling one assist and one steal in his appearances.
Cox was an honorable mention all-conference player his senior year at Waterloo West, and obviously worked hard to make the Iowa team as a walk-on.
I don't expect him to see much, if any, in games this year.
Branden Stubbs was a walk on last year, and saw action in four games. Stubbs had a career high 12 points against SIU Edwardsville.
Stubbs was the 2A player of the year his senior year at Des Moines Christian High School.
Stubbs showed he has a nice shot, and will probably be able to put a few shots up early in the season. Don't expect to see Stubbs too much in Big Ten play.
Steven McCarty is one of the two walk-ons that Iowa filled their roster with last week. McCarthy is a 6'0" Sophomore from Auburn Hills, Michigan.
McCarty is cousins with fellow sophomore, Devyn Marble. McCarty was solid as a high school player in Michigan, averaging 14 points, five assists and three steals as a senior.
McCarty could be one of those walk-ons to show a few things in the early season games and perhaps earn some playing time, but I wouldn't count on it.
McCarty has the athleticism, and blood line, to become a good college basketball player, I just don't think he has been on the team long enough to have much of an impact this year.
Kyle Denning is a freshman walk-on from Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Denning was quite an athlete in high school. He was the 1A player of the year last year, and holds school records in career steals, assists and three pointers.
Denning was also a very successful high school baseball player.
Denning has the athletic ability to get some mop-up minutes for the Hawkeyes this season, but probably not much else.
Darius Stokes took a red shirt as a freshman walk-on last season.
Stokes, of course, comes from great Hawkeye lineage. His father, Greg Stokes, is the Hawkeyes third all-time leading scorer.
Stokes has good size, at 6'7/203, but the Hawkeye faithful have yet to see if he has the skills to resemble his dad.
Devon Archie is a big man. Archie stands at 6'9" and has a thick body to throw around down in the post. His touch around the rim isn't great, but neither was Jerryd Cole's, and look at how productive he was.
Archie is a senior already, which is always easy to forget with junior college transfers.
In his first year in Iowa City, Archie averaged eight minutes, and less than three rebounds and two points. Those numbers are far from spectacular, but he was impressive at times.
With Cole gone and Brommer still recovering from a knee injury, Archie could be in for some big minutes at the start of the season. If he capitalizes on them, it could be a big senior season for Archie.
Gabe Olaseni is a 6'10" freshman from London, England. Olaseni played basketball last season for Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, where he averaged 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.2 blocks.
Olaseni comes to Iowa City as largely an unknown. Sunrise Academy in Kansas isn't a school likely to be seen on ESPN.
Olaseni could become another Erik Hansen inside, blocking a couple shots a game, or he could become just a tall benchwarmer.
How he adjusts to Iowa City this year, and Big Ten play, will be telling signs of things to come for the Englishman.
Zach McCabe is an enigma. I can not remember a basketball player I have watched who has made me change my opinion on him numerous times per game.
In his freshman season, McCabe would have me liking him one minute and then wanting Fran to bench him the next. McCabe would hit a big shot, followed by throwing a bad pass. He had an uncanny ability to always keep me toeing the line between liking his future prospects as a basketball player and doubting his potential.
McCabe has put on some muscle from last year and appears in better shape. His shot was sporadic last season, but did show flashes of being quite good.
If McCabe can figure out how to cut down on his mistakes, he could be a very valuable contributor to the Hawks this season, as he was for stretches last year.
Josh Oglesby had a lot of eyes on him last season as a senior at Cedar Rapids Washington. Oglesby has been on Hawks fan's radar for a couple years now. Last season, he averaged more than 20 points and seven boards for Washington.
Oglesby is a good shooter who should give the Hawkeyes another deep threat. It also helps that Olesby can get out and spot up on the fast break, which is something the Hawks like to do.
Oglesby is only 6'5/185, but his athleticism should allow him to be an immediate contributor this year. His freshman season should be good, but only the tip of the iceberg for Oglesby.
It is hard to believe that Andrew Brommer is now a senior. While Gatens has gotten a lot of credit for sticking with the Iowa program through the rough patches, Brommer deserves credit for the same thing.
Brommer has had a roller coaster type of career at Iowa. It seems like their have been more lows than highs on the court for Brommer, but last season he did show improvement.
Brommer averaged 3.1 ppg and 2.4 rpg last season and his 6'9/247 body provided some much needed minutes in the paint.
In his first year under McCaffery, Brommer looked much quicker and athletic than he did during the Lickleiter years. In his senior season, expect Brommer to be a little bit more in shape, a little bit more confident finishing around the rim, and a little bit more of a contributor.
Aaron White is a 6'8/225 freshman who impressed the Hawkeye faithful all summer in the Prime Time League. All reports from North Liberty applauded White and were comparable to the positive reports coming out last year about Melsahn Basabe.
White's big body should help him contribute right away to a Hawkeye offense who is lacking much of an inside presence outside of Basabe.
The Hawkeyes lost their team leader and resident inside presence when Jerry Cole graduated. White will have to be a scoring threat inside right away for the Hawkeyes to compete in Big Ten play.
Devyn Marble got better and better as last season continued. Marble took the starting role from Eric May near the end of the year, and shined as a starter.
Marble was especially good in late season games against Michigan and Indiana, scoring a career high 18 points in Bloomington against the Hoosiers.
Marble came in as a freshman and looked overwhelmed until about Christmas Break, but then turned it on, and should continue to grow this season into a legitimate scoring threat every time he touches the ball.
Eric May had a strange season, last year.
His scoring average dropped from 9.0 ppg to 7.8 ppg. His rebounding average dropped from 4.6 rpg to 2.9 rpg. His playing time dropped as well, especially in the middle of the season.
May quickly became a fan favorite in his freshman year, and the guy many thought would benefit most from Fran McCaffery's up-tempo style of play. Benefit, he did not.
Unlike some players who can not adjust to a coaching change, May will eventually figure it out. I had a suspicion all of last year that May never fully recovered from his early-season injury.
I view this as a big bounce back year for Eric May. His junior campaign may not only be better than his sophomore year, but his freshman season as well.
Matt Gatens is finally a senior. It seems like the hometown kid has been at Iowa forever.
Over the last four or five years, along with Jerryd Cole, Gatens has been as good and loyal of Iowa Basketball player as anybody. He has stuck with the program through the darkest days in Iowa Basketball history and is now a veteran to see the program start to turn around.
As a player, Gatens has been good, but not great. He still struggles with creating his own shot, and seems to disappear at the end of close games, with the exception of on the free throw line, where he is outstanding.
I do not say these things to put down Gatens, I just don't think he is the most valuable player on the Hawkeyes roster like many do. Gatens his best scoring season last year, averaging 12.6 ppg, but as I said, a lot of those points are where he can set his feet and receive a pass.
Gatens obviously knows this is his swan song in an Iowa uniform and I am sure has put in a ton of work this offseason. Gatens should put up his fourth straight year of a double-digit point per game average.
It sure would be nice to send him off with his first ever Big Ten Tournament win and even possibly an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Melsahn Basabe was a beast as a freshman.
Basabe started all 31 games, was named as a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and was an honorable mention on the All-Conference team.
Basabe averaged 11.0 ppg and 6.8 rpg. He was a late addition to the Hawkeyes roster last year, as he had originally committed to Sienna to play for Fran McCaffery, but followed the Coach to Iowa.
The knock on Basabe was his strength. After a year in the wright room and working out with Big Ten coaches and teammates, that shouldn't be an issue this season.
With Basabe's soft touch, and the added muscle he has put on, he could be poised for huge things this year.
The 2011-2012 Hawkeyes will go as Bryce Cartwright goes.
Cartwright came on last year as a juco transfer and was originally the backup point guard behind Cully Payne. That didn't last long, due to Payne's injury, but it wouldn't have lasted anyway. Cartwright was heads and shoulders the best point guard the Hawkeyes had on the roster since Tony Freeman left.
Cartwright averaged 10.9 ppg and dished out 5.9 assists last year, his first as a Hawkeye. Cartwright also always seemed to be the one taking, and often making, the big shots for the Hawkeyes.
For a guy who did not have a lot of time to gel with his teamates, Cartwright came on strong and took a leadership role with the young team.
In this, his senior season, I expect him to build on his junior campaign, and be one of the best point guards in the Big Ten.