Iowa men's basketball held their Media Day in Carver-Hawkeye Arena yesterday and while we discussed a few of the most notable items -- like the new uniforms and JBo's beard -- there are a few other things worth noting as well.
1. MEET THE 2019-20 TEAM
In addition to Media Day, this week was also Picture Day, which gives us a look at the full roster for Iowa hoops in 2019-20:
(from left to right)
BACK ROW: Patrick McCaffery, Joe Wieskamp, Ryan Kriener, Jack Nunge, Luka Garza, Cordell Pemsl, Riley Till, Michael Baer
FRONT ROW: Aidan Vanderloo, Austin Ash, Joe Toussaint, Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, Bakari Evelyn, C.J. Fredrick, Nicolas Hobbs
Baer, Vanderloo, Ash, and Hobbs are all current walk-ons.
Toussaint and P-Mac are, of course, Iowa's incoming freshmen recruits.
Evelyn is the grad transfer from Valparaiso that Iowa picked up this summer.
2. BEEF MODE
The official Iowa roster at Hawkeye Sports has been updated (as has the roster page at Go Iowa Awesome), which means numbers for the newcomers (#1 for Toussaint, #4 for Evelyn, #22 for P-Mac, and #51 for Vanderloo) and updated height and weight information. A few players apparently grew an inch since last year and several players have added around 15-20 lbs of new weight.
- Cordell Pemsl is up to 248 lbs, closer to what he was earlier in his Iowa career.
- Jack Nunge is up to 245 lbs.
- Luka Garza is up to 260 lbs. (LET THE PEACOCK LIFT)
- Also, Joe Toussaint is listed at 185 lbs (he was listed around 160-170 by most of the recruiting sites).
- Patrick McCaffery is listed at 6'9", 190 lbs, so I think this means Iowa officially has its own Slenderman.
3. THE JOE REPORT
Two of Iowa's most intriguing -- and important -- players this year will be the Joes -- Wieskamp and Toussaint. Joe Wieskamp is expected to take an even bigger role within the team after the departures of Tyler Cook, Isaiah Moss, Nicholas Baer, and Maishe Dailey after last season (not to mention the potential injury-induced absence of Jordan Bohannon). McCaffery seems excited to unleash a more experienced and more involved Wieskamp on Iowa's opponents this season:
"(Wieskamp) has always led by example with his work ethic and productivity," McCaffery said. "He has worked on becoming more versatile off the dribble. He could always do that, but he was kind of a rip-and-drive, drive pull-up, catch-and-shoot guy, and he's always going to be terrific at those three things, but I think you're seeing him now do more off the dribble, not only for himself, but for other people."
Joe Toussaint is Iowa's incoming freshman point guard and his speed and defensive mindset should give Iowa a new look at that position:
"He came in with a tremendous attitude, he wants to get better," McCaffery said. "He pushes the ball and has great speed. He gets in the lane, creates opportunities for his teammates, and has great vision on the floor. He is also a guy who can score; he's not what you would call a pure shooter, but he can make 3s. He can make pull-ups, finishes well getting to the rim and he is making really good decisions."
4. FROM WAY DOWNTOWN
The college 3-point line is extending outward slightly to mirror the international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches (it was previously 20 feet, 9 inches). Will that impact Iowa's long-range efforts? Fran doesn't think so:
"The good thing for us is the players that we have that make 3s can shoot it out there," said McCaffery. "From Wieskamp-to-Bohannon-to-Patrick (McCaffery)-to-Garza-to-Fredrick-to-Nunge-to-Kriener, it doesn't seem to be an issue at all.
"The percentages have been good and we have been charting everything from June until now. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Does it affect how teams defend? Will more teams play zone? You're seeing a lot of pack line defense anyway. Will everybody play pack line defense? We'll have to wait and see how that plays out."
Of note there is that Fran singled out Patrick McCaffery, CJ Fredrick, and Jack Nunge as strong additions to Iowa's long range shooting options this year. If Jordan Bohannon does sit out this year (and more on that below), Iowa will be without 182 of their 285 made three-pointers last year, given the departures of Baer, Moss, and Dailey. That's a lot of 3s to make up. Also of note? Of the players listed by Fran, only Bohannon, Fredrick, and Wieskamp play traditional back court positions. Having more capable three-point shooters at other positions on the floor could help Iowa's spacing and enable them to take advantage of mismatches on defense; on the other hand, if Bohannon is out, defenses may be able to sag off Iowa's guards if they're not significant three-point threats. One of Evelyn, Toussaint, and (Connor) McCaffery are likely to be on the court at all times this year, so hopefully they can also offer a capable three-point threat.
5. THE BOHANNON QUESTION
So... will he or won't he play? When news broke in late spring about the surgery he was going to have on his hip, the prognosis for seeing JBo in 2019-20 seemed grim. Now, almost five months later, Bohannon things sound much more hopeful, as Chad Leistikow reported at Hawk Central:
Wednesday, he said the pain was gone.
"These last three weeks, I’ve really progressed," he said. "Probably the most I have all four or five months together."
The feeling now?
"A lot happier than I was four or five months ago," he said. "In a better position, physically and spiritually these last five months."
Of course, Bohannon has yet to begin practicing with his teammates and we're still on the early parts of his projected window for recovery (5-9 months). Fran seems confident that Bohannon could play a few games early in the season and still be eligible to receive a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA if he's still in pain and needs to shut things down for further recovery. That would allow Bohannon to obtain a fifth year of eligibility to play in 2020-21. And that, ultimately, seems like the most likely outcome at this point -- if Bohannon's recovery continues at its current level, we'll see Bohannon test things out in game situations when the season gets underway next month. If he feels good, he'll likely keep playing. If he doesn't feel good, he can shut things down and should be able to return to Iowa a year from now. So let's just push pause on this conversation and revisit it in about six weeks -- by that point we should have a better sense of whether or not Bohannon is going to be able to be a regular presence for Iowa this year or not.
6. MEET THE THREE-HEADED POINT GUARD MONSTER
If Jordan Bohannon doesn't play this season, Iowa will have a brand new lead point guard for the first time in three years. Even if JBo does play, though, Iowa will have need of significant contributions from Evelyn, Toussaint, and McCaffery this year. So what do we know about them heading into the new season? Mark Emmert profiled them for Hawk Central out of Media Day and while the full piece is well worth reading, here are a few highlights:
- Despite only joining the program a few months ago, Evelyn has been asked to assume a leadership role on the team -- and has responded to that well, particularly in terms of becoming a mentor for Toussaint.
- Toussaint calls Evelyn a "scoring point guard" and says he can "score from everywhere" and Evelyn highlights his playmaking skills and ability to create shots for himself
- Evelyn and Toussaint both praised Connor for his strength and his basketball IQ (Connor wasn't able to provide comments on them because he was playing with Iowa's baseball team on Wednesday), while Fran noted that he could see some time at the small forward position this year, which would be interesting.
- As for Toussaint, Evelyn praised his quickness and ability to get into the paint, while Toussaint highlighted his own playmaking skills and ability to be effective in different situations (off screens, driving the ball).
- Garza also singled out Toussaint for his aggressiveness on defense and Toussaint himself touted his ability as a defender, which was bred into him as a kid playing on playgrounds in the Bronx.
Toussaint and Evelyn are two of the biggest wildcards for Iowa this season, so seeing what they can do will be one of the most exciting aspects of the 2019-20 campaign.