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Iowa basketball is going to look very, very different next year.

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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Big changes are afoot for Iowa basketball next year.  For good and ill, the 2015-16 senior class -- Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, Anthony Clemmons, and Jarrod Uthoff -- have defined this program for the last few years.  But they're gone now, so it's time for a new-look Iowa team.  It's also an Iowa team that's going to have to replace a LOT of production.  Those departures take away 58% of the minutes played this year, 56% of the scoring production, 54% of the rebounding, 74% of the assists, 66% of the blocks, 54% of the steals, 63% of the team free throw attempts, 43% of the 3-pointers attempted, and 41% of the 3-pointers made.


We already know part of what Iowa's schedule will look like in 2016-17.

The annual series with Iowa State will continue; this time with Iowa State heading to Iowa City for the game. Iowa State has won three years in a row and six of the last seven. Much like Iowa, though, they figure to have a very different team in 2016-17. Noted Hawkeye troll Georges Niang will be gone, as well as Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay. Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas will be back on the perimeter, as will Monte Morris unless he decides to test the NBA Draft waters. Deonte Burton will be one of their only experienced players on the inside.

The Big 4 Classic is also continuing, with Iowa facing UNI next year in Des Moines. The Panthers lose Wes Washpun, Matt Bohannon, and half-court shot hero Paul Jesperson, but Jeremy Morgan and Wyatt Lohaus will be back for UNI. There's going to be a fair amount of rebuilding going on with the Iowa hoops programs next year.

Iowa will also be playing in Emerald Coast Classic tournament over Thanksgiving, along with Virginia, Providence, Memphis, St. Francis College, Savannah State, University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley, and Grambling. Virginia and Providence very good teams this season, but both are likely to be missing several key players next year. Providence is expected to lose Kris Dunn (16.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 6.2 apg) and may also lose Ben Bentil (21.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg) to the NBA Draft. Virginia will lose ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon (18.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.9 apg) and Anthony Gill (13.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg), and possibly London Perrantes (10.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.3 apg) as well.

As usual, Iowa will also take part in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge series, though we don't know what that opponent will be at this point. If the match-ups are based on the final record/league standing from this season, it could be someone like Duke, Notre Dame, Clemson, or Virginia Tech. It probably won't be Notre Dame -- Iowa played them in a non-conference tournament last season and also played them in the B1G-ACC Challenge two years ago. It also probably won't be Duke -- Iowa won't have high expectations next year and they aren't an established brand name program. Clemson or Virginia Tech seem like plausible options, although it could very easily be another ACC team as well -- they aren't bound by conference standings by any means.

Iowa took part in the first annual Gavitt Tipoff Games this season (trouncing Marquette), but probably won't take part in that event next year. When that event was announced, it was noted that those games would rotate among Big Ten teams. Given that Iowa participated this year, it seems like that they'll sit it out next year.

Iowa's other non-conference games will very likely be home games against weaker opponents. They'll need to strike a balance between the need to boost the profile for the purposes of the NCAA Tournament selection committee (i.e., avoid too many RPI bomb teams) and the need to schedule some easier games to help this young team build confidence and get some wins.  I don't expect a particularly challenging slate in next year's non-conference games, and that's OK -- this team is likely going to have enough growing pains as it is in November and December, so there's no need to saddle them with a bunch of challenging games, too.

And, finally, Iowa will of course play 18 Big Ten games next year, although we don't yet know who Iowa will be playing once and who they'll be playing home and away, or what the sequence of those games will be.


Several outlets have taken a shot at predicting next year's Iowa lineup, with varied results.

ESPN ($):

G - Jordan Bohannon (FR; 6-0, 170)
G - Peter Jok (SR; 6-6, 200)
F - Isaiah Moss (RS FR; 6-5, 175)
F - Dom Uhl (JR; 6-9, 195)
F- Tyler Cook (FR; 6-8, 240)

Hawk Central:

PG - Christian Williams (SO; 6-6, 195)
SG - Peter Jok (SR; 6-6, 200)
SF - Dom Uhl (JR; 6-9, 195)
PF - Tyler Cook (FR; 6-8, 240)
C - Ahmad Wagner (SO; 6-7, 215)


PG - Christian Williams (SO; 6-6, 195)
SG - Peter Jok (SR; 6-6, 200)
SF - Dom Uhl (JR; 6-9, 195)
PF - Tyler Cook (FR; 6-8, 240)
C - Ahmad Wagner (SO; 6-7, 215)


PG - ???
SG - Peter Jok (SR; 6-6, 200)
SF - Nicholas Baer (SO; 6-7, 187)
PF - Dom Uhl (JR; 6-9, 195)
C - Tyler Cook (FR; 6-8, 240)

My own guess:

PG - Christian Williams (SO; 6-6, 195)
SG - Peter Jok (SR; 6-6, 200)
SF - Dom Uhl (JR; 6-9, 195)
PF - Tyler Cook (FR; 6-8, 240)
C -Ahmad Wagner (SO; 6-7, 215)

The only thing everyone agrees on?  Peter Jok will start -- duh.  Jok is going to be the focal point of next year's team and there's no doubt that he'll be relied upon to lead this very young team.  Hopefully he'll be up to the challenge and continue to improve his skill set.

The other guard spot is likely down to either Christian Williams or Jordan Bohannon. Both seem like sure bets to play a lot, regardless of who starts, if only because Iowa doesn't have any other options at the point guard spot right now.  (If they're able to somehow procure a graduate transfer at PG, of course, that would change the situation significantly.) Williams has flashed some strong play in brief moments over the last few weeks of the season and has the benefit of being a part of the Iowa program for a year, so he seems like a slight favorite to start at this point.

The front court spots are even more up in the air. The most experienced options there are Uhl, Wagner, and Baer, but it's difficult to see all three of them starting. The front court seems like a spot where a freshman or redshirt freshman could muscle his way into a starting spot.  Cook is the most celebrated Iowa recruit since at least Adam Woodbury (not counting Jarrod Uhotff, who was a transfer) and appears the most physically ready to step in and play right away. His bulk -- 6-8, 240 -- figures to be invaluable for a team that's otherwise a bit scrawny up front.

Uhl had a very up-and-down season in 2015-16 and his performance over the last month or so certainly didn't suggest that we can write him down as a starter in ink. But in the absence of other experienced options, he does seem as likely to start as anyone. He could start at either the 3 or the 4, though he seems to prefer the 3.

Baer was the lone bright spot in Sunday's beatdown by Villanova and performances like that (as well as some of his showings from December and January) suggest that he definitely has the ability to be a starter for Iowa.  Some of his plays against Villanova showed a really impressive level of offensive skill. That said, I also really like him as a sixth man, bringing a lot of energy and scoring pop off the bench. He could do well in a key role on the second unit, I think. That said, I also wouldn't be surprised to see him starting next year, either.

Wagner is another wildcard. He was pretty good in a limited role this year -- could he be even better in a larger role next season? He showed some nice post moves at times and some energetic defense, although positioning was also an issue there. Still: Iowa will need size and Wagner is one of the few guys on the roster with any level of experience there.

Dale Jones, the forgotten man of the 2015-16 team, is another name who could be a starter next season. He suffered a knee injury in December and was forced to miss the remainder of the season, but apparently his recovery has been going well and he'll hopefully be 100% for next season.  He'll bring some outside shooting prowess, as well as some more much-needed size (6-8, 220). If he's fully recovered from his knee injury, it wouldn't shock me to see him make his way into the starting lineup.  Like Baer, he could also be a potent weapon off the bench, though.

There's the matter of the four remaining freshmen, too -- redshirt freshmen Isaiah Moss and Brandon Hutton, plus true freshmen Cordell Pemsl Ryan Kriener. One of Pemsl or Kriener figures to redshirt -- there just won't be enough minutes to go around and it would help to even out the classes a little bit -- but it's hard to guess who that might be at this point.  Moss and Hutton were two of the more exciting members of Iowa's recruiting class a season ago and both should provide a welcome jolt of athleticism and energy to Iowa's lineup next year.  Could one of them break into the starting lineup?  Given the uncertainty at so many roster spots, sure.

And finally, there's also sophomore guards Andrew Fleming and Brady Ellingson. Moss figures to battle for some of those minutes, although he could also see time at the 3 spot.  Ellingson fell deeply out of favor in Iowa's rotations this season and barely saw any action after Valentine's Day (just 5 minutes in the loss against Wisconsin, outside of a few garbage-time seconds against Villanova). Fleming was never able to work his way into the rotations in the first place. Given that, and the incoming newcomers, both have been mooted as potential transfers, although we'll have to wait and see on that front.  It is hard to see where they fit into the plans right now, though.

Iowa didn't go much more than 7-8 deep this year, but I suspect next year's team might go 9-10 deep. Iowa played at the second fastest tempo of Fran's tenure at Iowa this year (69.7, behind only 2014's 70.4 possessions per game pace) and next year's team seems built to play as fast -- or even faster. Fran has been assembling a roster full of long-limbed, quick, and versatile athletes and next year's team should be full of guys like that. We don't exactly who's going to be playing next year or how all these new pieces will mesh, but that uncertainty is exciting.  We've had a pretty good thing for the last few years, but it's ending -- it's time for something new now.