IOWA HAWKEYES PLAYER PREVIEWS: CORDELL PEMSL

By Adam Jacobi on October 31, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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Cordell Pemsl

Bio: Freshman, 6'8", 249 lbs. (Dubuque, Iowa)
Last season: 21.8 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game (High School)

What we need to see this season

 ...that Pemsl can do the little things game in and game out that a Big Ten-quality player does. With probably six and potentially seven forwards vying for playing time in 2016 (we're not counting the current walk-ons—sorry, Charlie Rose), it's incumbent on Pemsl to earn his way into the rotation. He's a big body, but he doesn't play like his physical comparables like Tyler Cook or Ryan Kriener. Or, at least he didn't in high school, and it's not quite what we saw out of him in the PTL.

Yes, it's the PTL where defense is 404 NOT FOUND, but Pemsl plays quickly, especially for his size and relative inexperience. He doesn't have freakish hops, though it'll be interesting to see how much explosiveness he can get out of his surgically revamped knees as that recovery process continues. But he's executing plays as soon as he touches the ball, he's got decent footwork, he seems like the best-dribbling big man Iowa's had since Aaron White (and before White, lord, who knows?) and he's big enough to hold his own on the glass. Pemsl brought up Draymond Green as a model for his game; we can see that, especially since Green wasn't a huge part of the Spartan offense until his junior year. 

The good news is that freshmen sometimes need a year to transform their physiques and adjust their games accordingly; that is steadfastly not the case for Pemsl, who's already pushing 250 and took care of the adjustments in high school after undergoing surgeries to correct his knock-knees. Even with the condition he had an objectively great prep career, one of the best in the history of the state, and he led his team in scoring and rebounding all four years. He also played with Kriener and PG Jordan Bohannon in AAU, so the second unit will be plenty familiar from the word "go."

Now the questions, of course: how's his defense? How easy is it for an actual Big Ten player to D him up when the game is on the line? How reliable is that jumper? What's his go-to shot, and can he get it off with any regularity? Can he lure a post defender out to the perimeter? Can he rebound well enough to be trusted at the five?

Best Case Scenario

If we had to guess, Iowa's starting three forwards (Dom Uhl, Cook and either Nicolas Baer or Wagner) so there's probably going to be a chance to pick up substantial playing time. Pemsl's versatility creates matchup problems for opposing forwards and he becomes an integral part of the Hawkeye rotation, taking minutes away from, say, Dale Jones.

Unless injuries play a major factor as the season unfolds—a relative rarity—15 minutes, six points and four rebounds per game is probably Pemsl's ceiling at this point, with the random explosion game where he flashes the potential that had high-major schools drooling early in his high school career. Hey, their loss.

Most Likely Scenario

Fran McCaffery has to divvy up approximately 40-50 minutes per game between Wagner, Pemsl, Dale Jones and his smaller lineup stretches. If Kriener doesn't redshirt (he probably should, right?) that'll be more minutes spoken for out of that mix. Pemsl's skill set is sufficiently different from those other forwards that he should get on the court pretty regularly, especially in the non-conference slate, but he'll have some three-minute evenings too and that's going to have to be okay.

One Request

Work out a system with Ahmad Wagner so they don't have the same hair and headband color on the court, please. We can't always see the jersey numbers, especially on TV, but we can always see the headbands.

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