Most of the news around the Iowa basketball program has centered around departures, but here's a news item that suggests that a member of the Iowa basketball program could be sticking around a bit longer. Iowa filed a hardship waiver with the Big Ten Conference on behalf of Cordell Pemsl after he suffered a season-ending injury early in the season; on Friday we found out that waiver was approved. There wasn't too much suspense in whether or not Pemsl's waiver would be approved -- he played in just two games early in the season and was forced to miss the rest of the year due to a clear and well-documented injury -- but it's always nice to see the decision made official.
After playing in almost every game during his freshman (2016-17) and sophomore (2017-18) seasons, Pemsl played in only two games this past season. He played 14 minutes against UMKC (scoring no points but grabbing two rebounds and dishing an assist) and had an impactful appearance off the bench against Iowa State, when he helped spark Iowa's 98-84 upset of the Cyclones. Pemsl went 2/3 in that game (and 4/4 at the free throw line) for eight points and also had six rebounds, an assist, and a block in 16 minutes. After that game, Iowa shut Pemsl down for the season and he underwent successful surgery to remove loose hardware near his knee.
Statistically, Pemsl's best season was his freshman year, when he started 14 games and played 18.4 minutes a game, scoring 8.9 ppg on a sizzling 61.7% from the floor while also hauling in 5.0 rpg and contributing 1.4 blocks + steals per game. His numbers dipped as a sophomore; he appeared in 32 games, starting none, and averaging 16.4 minutes per appearance. His scoring dipped to 5.7 ppg (on 56.5% field goal shooting) and he had 4.5 rebounds per game and 1.5 assists per contest.
Pemsl enters the 2019-20 season with an uncertain role. With Tyler Cook's departure for the NBA Draft, there's a clear opening at power forward in Iowa's lineup next season. Pemsl and Jack Nunge (who also missed the entire 2018-19 season, although due to planned redshirt rather than injury) figure to duke it out for that vacant spot at the four. Pemsl is similar to Cook in that he's most effective near the rim -- but he achieves that effectiveness through very different means. While Cook frequently used his quickness, strength, and leaping ability to out-muscle defenders and go through them on his way to the basket, Pemsl is more apt to use his footwork, positioning, and array of low-post moves near the buckets. He has what we have fondly referred to as "old man game."
Whether or not Pemsl is named the starter in 2019-20, the Big Ten's decision to approve his hardship waiver means that next year won't have to be his final year in black and gold. Pemsl will have two years of eligibility remaining, so he can be an option for Iowa in the low post in both the short- and medium-term. We look forward to seeing what he can do in the Iowa lineup for the next two seasons.