You know how we were wondering how Iowa intended to fill the suddenly-open scholarships after departures from Tyler Cook, Maishe Dailey, and Isaiah Moss? Well, now we have a partial answer: bench mobber (bench mobster?) Riley Till is going from walk-on to scholarship player.
Iowa puts Riley Till on scholarship. Still has 2 to work with for 2019-20. pic.twitter.com/t8fBjOaKG6
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) May 15, 2019
In a release, Fran McCaffery praised Till's contributions to the program over the past three seasons:
“Riley earned this scholarship," said McCaffery. "He is the consummate teammate, a good student, and has worked extremely hard to improve his game the past three years. He has helped our team, and makes us better.”
Till certainly isn't the first walk-on to earn a scholarship at Iowa during Fran McCaffery's tenure at Iowa; in fact, this decision comes just after the graduation and departure of another Iowa player who followed that same path -- to tremendous success. Nicholas Baer arrived at Iowa as a walk-on but became an integral part of Iowa's rotation and was even named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year two years ago.
That said, it would be unfair to expect that same level of performance out of Iowa's latest walk-on-turned-scholarship player. Till redshirted during his first season at Iowa (2016-17), where he was most notable for wearing very sharp suits as part of Iowa's Bench Mob, and has played sparingly over the past two seasons. He played in just eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2017-18, but was more involved last season, as he saw time in 16 games. His biggest game, statistically speaking, came against Savannah State when he had 10 points on 4/5 shooting and added two assists and two steals in 20 minutes of action. But his biggest on-court contributions likely came against Oregon in Iowa's win over the Ducks in the 2K Empire Classic, when he had three offensive rebounds, an assist, and a block to help Iowa knock off the Ducks. He gave Iowa some good minutes in that game while some of Iowa's other bigs were dealing with foul trouble.
Till, a 6'7", 205 lb forward, could be in line for a bigger on-court role in 2018 with the departures of Maishe Dailey and Tyler Cook, though playing time will still likely be hard to come by, especially with Patrick McCaffery arriving as a true freshman and Cordell Pemsl and Jack Nunge coming off redshirt seasons. Till figures to see minutes during Iowa's non-conference slate and in blowouts, but if he continues to improve, he'll certainly have a chance to carve out more minutes in Iowa's rotations. After all, we've seen it happen before and Fran has shown no qualms about playing walk-ons if they earn it.
Still, even if Till's biggest contributions are emphatically cheering on his teammates as part of the Bench Mob and being a valuable practice player and teammate, that will be fine. Till will be a junior in 2019-20 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Technically, the release announcing that he would be on scholarship only stipulated that he would be on scholarship "for the 2019-20 season," though it's certainly possible (and fairly likely) that he would also be on scholarship for the 2020-21 season as well. Iowa still has two scholarships available for 2019-20 and four scholarships for 2020-21 (assuming both Cordell Pemsl and Riley Till return to Iowa for fifth years). That's quite a few scholarships to play with yet (and McCaffery recently indicated that they're continuing to consider transfer options). And, as this offseason has taught us, more scholarships can open up in a hurry as well.
Congratulations on receiving a scholarship, Riley.