Well, that's one way to sort out Iowa's potential logjam in the front court. Shortly before the Iowa-UMKC game tipped off, Iowa announced that Jack Nunge would redshirt for the 2018-19 season:
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) November 8, 2018
Nunge played in all 33 games for Iowa last year, including 14 starts. He averaged 5.7 ppg (on 44.3% shooting, 33.3% from 3-point range), 2.8 rpg, and 1.4 blocks/steals per game in his 15.7 minutes per game of action. Nunge was second on the team in blocked shots (25) and fourth in steals (21). His best games of the year came against Grambling (17 points, 7 rebounds), Iowa State (16 points, 8 rebounds), and Ohio State (18 points, 5 rebounds).
This redshirt decision seems like a good one, though. Frankly, it was going to be damn hard for Nunge to find minutes in Iowa's front court this year, barring a spate of injuries or a freak mumps outbreak. When I tried to project the minutes distribution for Iowa's roster this year I had Nunge at around four minutes, mainly because there were so many other guys competing for the same minutes as him. Nunge played a fair amount at the 3 last year but he's not really well-suited to that at the Big Ten level; he's just not quite quick enough to keep up with Big Ten wings. His best position is at the 4, which is a problem this year because, well, Iowa has about 4-5 guys whose best position is at the 4: in addition to Nunge, Tyler Cook, Cordell Pemsl, and Nicholas Baer all seem best there and even Ryan Kriener can play there a bit if needed. And with Joe Wieskamp set to take over the 3 position (and provide a much more natural option there), it was tough to see where Nunge fit into this jigsaw. But things ought to get much clearer after this season: Baer will graduate and it seems very likely that Tyler Cook will be pursuing professional basketball next year.
There's still a lot to like about Nunge: his physical attributes are excellent and he flashed his potential as a true freshman a few times; if he can access that potential on a more regular basis, he could become a very solid player. His incredible reach and his inside-outside scoring potential made us dream a bit of another Jarrod Uthoff and while that expectation might be too high (Uthoff was very very good!), if Nunge can become 60-70% of what Uthoff was, that would still make him a very welcome part of Iowa's rotation.
Time to spend a season in the incubator, Mr. Nunge. We'll see you in 12 months.