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Hawkeye men REBUILD

Hawk Talk
Isaiah Moss, Riley Till and Brady Ellingson pose for photos and take questions during media day for the University of Iowa Men’s Basketball team Oct. 6 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (photos by Don Lund)

What do you do when you lose four seniors who combined to win 89 games in the last four years?
Media Day for the University of Iowa men’s basketball team was Oct. 5 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and plenty of optimism was around.
You start rebuilding by bringing in a top recruiting class, led by power forward Tyler Cook (6-9, 253), rated a four-star recruit.
Add three Iowa players, who grew up Hawkeye fans, and Isaiah Moss (6-5, 192), a guard that could redshirt.
Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery says Cook has the tools to be a star in the Big Ten.
“We have never had anybody like Tyler Cook,” said the head coach. “He’s a special talent. He comes physically ready and he will be good right away.”
Freshman Cordell Pemsl (6-8, 249), from Iowa, has a Big Ten body and could see early minutes.
“He’s been really impressive,” said coach Fran. “He is a guy that has a really good feel on how to play the game. He can dribble, pass and shoot and he knows how to post up. He can really help us and I’m really excited about him.”
I talked to Pemsl at Prime Time last summer, he told me he grew up a Hawkeye fan and it was a dream come true when he committed after his sophomore year in high school.
Ryan Kriener (6-9, 247) also has a chance to contribute this year.
“When you get a big guy that is active with his feet, I mean, he sprints back,” said McCaffery. “He runs down the floor and he is constantly moving. He’s got incredible stamina for a guy that big.”
Kriener came on late in the Prime Time league and teamed up with Cordell to win the championship.
“It was a lot of fun playing with Cordell,” said Kriener. “Ever since I was a freshman we played AAU basketball together. We had a good connection.”
Jordan Bohannon (6-0, 182) has a chance to play point guard and is a great 3-point shooter. He shot 43 percent from 3-point range last season at Linn-Mar.
The freshmen help, but the Hawkeyes have to rely on their upperclassmen to win and make it to the big dance.
Most Iowa fans, and I’m sure Fran McCaffery, breathed a sigh of relief when Peter Jok (6-6, 205) decided to come back for his senior year.
Jok tested the NBA waters, but choose to return and be a Hawkeye one more year. He is the main leader on the team.
“I’ve been really, really happy with Pete’s development there,” said coach McCaffery. “Whenever we had a workout, he was there early and stayed late.”
The coach said Jok will see a lot more double-team this year. He has extended his range from the 3-point line.
Dale Jones (6-7, 227), Dom Uhl (6-9, 217), Nic Baer (6-7, 205), Ahmad Wagner (6-7, 235), Brady Ellingson (6-4, 193) and Christian Williams (6-6, 200) will all get a chance to crack the 10-man rotation coach McCaffery plans to use this year.
Nic Baer played in all 33 games last year and provided a spark off the bench.
“In the off-season, I’ve worked on my body to increase my stamina,” said Nic, who walked on the team.
Ahmad Wagner also brought energy to the team and shot 68 percent from the floor.
“In the off-season, I worked a lot on my ball handling and shooting,” said Ahmad. “I hope to help more on the court offensively.”
Dale Jones and Brady Ellingson can shoot the 3-pointer, while Christian Williams has a shot to start at point guard.
Coach Fran said Williams is such a good defender, he and Jordan might play together in the front court.
A lot of talent and not a lot of experience.
It will be interesting to see how it all comes together.