It’s the offseason for Iowa’s major sports and while baseball is keeping the lights on, news flow these days is much more ebb and flow. In an effort to keep things fresh, we’re trying something new: a daily recap of the news in Hawkeye sports land. The BHGP staff typically shares things as they come up throughout each day and we debate the validity of a full scale article against the time constraints of the staff writers. That won’t change, but we will be trying to compile those news items we share back and forth into something for the BHGP community to discuss rather than to pop up sporadically on other posts.
Feedback welcome in the comments.
Things have been.... interesting for Iowa Hawkeye fans over the last several days. We took Friday off from a news recap perspective because TGIF. Then, uh, stuff hit the fan over the weekend and that meant nothing could compete with the CJ Fredrick news yesterday.
As a result, we’ve got a LOT of things going on that haven’t been touched on. So let’s dive in.
Hawkeye Basketball: Past, Present and Future
While most Hawkeyes fans are still reeling from the loss of CJ Fredrick to the transfer portal on Monday, the basketball program began to look forward. We noted a few weeks ago that class of 2022 big man Riley Mulvey reclassified to the class of 2021. That means he’s now set to be on campus for next season.
Fran McCaffery hasn’t been able to comment on him because he, unlike other members of this class, had yet to sign a letter of intent. That changed on Tuesday.
Mulvey now officially joins the class of 2021 with Ankeny native Payton Sandfort. Mulvey isn’t about to take the league by storm, but by all accounts he has continued to fill out to now a 6’11” frame with 230-240 pounds to bang inside at the next level. He’s a bit more athletic than the departing Garza, but will certainly be lightyears behind his offensive skill.
Iowa needs all the help they can get in the post for 2021.
One place the Hawkeyes could look for that is to a young gun already on the roster. No, not Josh Ogundele, though he will surely need to contribute on some level. But as noted in our look at how things stand, sophomore to-be Keegan Murray is a dynamic player who could well fill some minutes at the 5 in a small-ball lineup.
How good could Murray be? ESPN says good enough to be a 1st rounder in next year’s NBA Draft.
ESPN with a 2022 NBA mock draft. I see you Keegan Murray. pic.twitter.com/GitwbC8baW— Tom Kakert (@HawkeyeReport) April 20, 2021
Speaking of Hawkeyes in the NBA, Iowa had their first former player make a start in the league Monday night since Reggie Evans (!!) in 2015 as Tyler Cook got the start for the Detroit Pistons.
First start in the NBA by a Hawkeye since Reggie Evans on April 7, 2015. https://t.co/qvTTPHhIfr— Matt Benson (@mbenson6) April 19, 2021
In case you missed it, Cook recently signed a 1-year deal with the Pistons after bouncing around the G-League with 10-day contracts all over the place the last year plus.
Things went well for the former Hawkeye in his debut in the starting lineup. He finished with 12 points and 3 boards in 30 minutes of action. That, of course, included some highlights.
Good for that dude. And good for Fran’s ability to sell SOMEONE in the league.
Transfer Portal Update
In case you missed it, Iowa needs some help in the transfer portal. Also of note, there are a few players currently in the portal.
That number did see a bit of a change today as a trio of our Big Ten brethren got some nice commitments. That starts with Ohio State, who added former Indiana big man Joey Brunk. Iowa was involved on this one, despite him missing all of last season with back issues, but ultimately it was the connection with Chris Holtman, who recruited Brunk at Butler, that sent the big man to Columbus.
In a one in, one out type of scenario (though the Hoosiers have certainly added more than just one player this offseason), the Indiana Hoosiers added a transfer of their own on Tuesday.
Northwestern sharpshooter Miller Kopp, who may have well be a serviceable CJ Fredrick replacement, opts to stay within the conference and heads from Evanston to Bloomington for his true senior season.
Elsewhere, the Penn State Nittany Lions got a major pickup from the portal, but not in the traditional sense. They landed John Harrar, who opts to return to the Nits for a fifth year rather than head elsewhere for his final, extra season.
John Harrar tells me that he is returning to Penn State and will not transfer. Huge news for the Nittany Lions.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 20, 2021
With all the pieces moving around minute by minute, it’s hard to remain patient as a Hawkeye fan, but new names continue to enter the portal every day and some high quality names remain available. By all accounts, McCaffery and the staff are actively pursuing a number of big men, as well as the new focus on adding a guard.
We’ll explore some of those names in more detail later in the week.
Women for the Win
While so much of the focus on success within the Iowa athletic department comes down to the revenue sports, the non-revenue sports are on a very nice run. That continued over the weekend as the Iowa women’s soccer team did the unthinkable.
The Hawks finished the regular season 12th in the Big Ten after going 6-8-1, but flipped the conference on its head Sunday as they took down the Wisconsin Badgers 1-0 to win the Big Ten Conference Tournament Championship.
Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights.
That win, which is the first Big Ten Tournament title in program history, comes with an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament. The bracket for that was released on Monday and Iowa is matched up with Campbell in the first round. That game will be at 2pm CT on Tuesday, April 27th on the University of Campbell’s campus. The winner will advance to take on the 3rd seeded UCLA Bruins on April 30th.
Always great to see "IOWA" on the NCAA bracket!! pic.twitter.com/jeP7r3n9nN— Hawkeye Soccer (@HawkeyeSoccer) April 19, 2021
The tournament appearance is the second straight for the Iowa women, but only the third in program history. Before last season, Iowa’s last appearance came in 2013. The Hawkeyes have never won an NCAA Tournament game.
And outside of the soccer world, shout out to Alexa Noel of the Iowa Women’s Tennis team as she was named the Big Ten Tennis Player of the week on Tuesday.
Noel, a freshman from New Jersey, clinched the doubles point and her singles win secured Iowa’s 4-1 victory at No. 44 Nebraska on April 18, as well as the No. 4 seed at the Big Ten Tournament. She moved to an impressive 22-0 with a straight-sets victory (6-0, 6-3) against No. 125 Kristina Novak after being down, 4-3 in the second set and claimed her sixth ranked win of the season. Noel now holds the best single-season winning percentage (1.000) in school history.
This was her fourth Athlete of the Week accolade this season.
And that’s your Hawkeye Sports rewind for Tuesday, April 20th. Go Hawks!