Iowa men’s basketball may face an unfamiliar problem this winter.
The team has talent and depth at each position with varying levels of experience. Five new players coupled with seven holdovers will make the competition fierce.
“I think the real challenge is going to be giving them all enough playing time because we have a lot of guys that deserve a lot of playing time,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said earlier this summer. “A guy last year that was playing 34 minutes might be playing a few less. He’s got to understand that’s actually better for our team.”
All but one of Iowa’s incoming players competed this summer in the Prime Time League, which is an opportunity for the public to evaluate both the newcomers and veterans. Here’s how the players stack up at the Prime Time League’s conclusion Tuesday:
Mike Gesell, a 6-foot-2 freshman, was a top-100 recruit. He exudes leadership as a point guard, both as a scorer and a passer. He can do it all. In baseball terms, he’s a five-tool player.
Freshman Anthony Clemmons (6-1) will compete for minutes. Clemmons is stronger and more physical than Gesell, maybe a little quicker and possibly a better defender.
“They’re much different in unique ways,” Iowa junior guard Devyn Marble, who started 13 games at the point last year. “I think Mike at this point in time is a better shooter, and I think Sapp (Clemmons) is better off the dribble. They both like to create for others, and they both like to play defense. A really big thing with Sapp and will make him be on the floor a lot is that he really gets after it on defense.”
Minutes breakdown: Gesell 26, Clemmons 14
Marble, 6-foot-7, has this spot locked up — except if he slides to the wing or to the point for a few minutes. Marble averaged 11.5 points a game last year and ranked fifth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio. He can drive on anyone, boasts a solid mid-range game and has worked on his 3-point shooting.
Moving in behind Marble is sophomore Josh Oglesby, the team’s best 3-point shooter. Oglesby has put on weight and his added strength is obvious, but it hasn’t affected his perimeter shot.
Marble-Oglesby will rank among the Big Ten’s best combinations offensively. But one concern — which has been addressed — is the defense from this position.
Minutes breakdown: Marble 26, Oglesby 20 (both moving to the three on occasion)
No position boasts more interchangeable parts than this one. Marble and Oglesby will move here at times, as will 6-8 sophomore power forward Aaron White and last year’s starting center, 6-7 junior Zach McCabe. Senior Eric May (6-5) has 69 starts at this position and is the team’s strongest player. Incoming freshman Pat Ingram (6-2) is perhaps the group’s best defender.
“We can go big, we can go small. We can go with a pressing team with a lot of quickness. We can be huge,” McCaffery said. “There’s a lot of ways we can go.”
White, McCabe and junior Melsahn Basabe (6-7) will battle for time at the four. White became a rising star in the Big Ten, averaging 11.1 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds a game last year. He has only improved this off-season. Basabe was a member of the Big Ten’s all-freshman team two years ago but slumped last season. He since has regained his intensity and has returned to form. McCabe is the most versatile of the three, can play multiple positions and is accurate from 3-point range. Freshman Kyle Meyer (6-10) eventually could find a home here but is a good candidate for a red-shirt.
“It’s going to be a fight to get the minutes,” McCabe said.
Minutes breakdown: White 24, McCabe 20, Basabe 20, May 12, Ingram 8, Meyer (red-shirt)
Star recruit Adam Woodbury (7-foot) runs like a 6-8 forward. He’ll impact the game defensively and with unselfish offensive play. Although his points will fluctuate from game-to-game, he’ll likely pick up between eight and 10 rebounds a night. Sophomore Gabe Olaseni (6-10) was the team’s most improved player, will impact the game on defense and boast a few highlight-reel dunks.
“They both want to play a lot of minutes, and there’s a lot of minutes for both of them,” Marble said. “Woody’s an excellent passer; a really good passer. He’s really strong. Gabe brings a more explosive, shot-blocking type person that can come up against me a shooting a midrange jump shot.”
Basabe, White and possibly McCabe will move down to the five depending on the match-up, depth, injuries or foul trouble.
Minutes breakdown: Woodbury 20, Olaseni 12