Much of the attention since Iowa’s second round exit in the 2021 NCAA Tournament has been spent on the transfer portal. And rightfully so as the Hawkeyes saw a pair of players enter the portal in Jack Nunge (Xavier) and CJ Fredrick (Kentucky), while yet another - walk-on Austin Ash - entered the portal only to return and be added to scholarship.
The Hawkeyes bolstered their roster through the portal as well, adding North Dakota big man Filip Rebraca in an attempt to fill some of the void left by National Player of the Year Luka Garza and the aforementioned Nunge. They also saw class of 2022 center Riley Mulvey reclassify to the class of 2021 after using the pandemic to bulk up and fill out as an 18-year-old high school junior.
On Thursday, Iowa added yet another piece to the roster as they got a commitment from Michigan native Luc Laketa.
So grateful for this new beginning! Thankful for all of my teammates, coaches, family, and friends who have supported me throughout this process. https://t.co/x2aYdFNivr— Luc Laketa (@LaketaLuc) May 13, 2021
Laketa is a 6’6” wing who is originally a class of 2020 prospect from Hanover-Horton in Michigan. As a senior at Hanover-Horton, Laketa averaged 15 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals on 60% shooting from the field and 45% shooting beyond the arc. He was also a 71% free throw shooter.
In 2020-2021, Laketa opted to reclassify to the class of ‘21 and attend the Winchendon School in Massachussets. However, due to the pandemic, the fall and winter sports schedules in Massachusetts were delayed with limited reporting on the 2021 season to-date.
What we can see from his 2019-2020 film, and some open practice footage at Winchendon, Laketa has a good frame for the position. At 6’6” he fits in well at the 3 in Iowa’s offense. He’s also a solid outside shooter at 45%, something Iowa’s roster needs. His quickness and athleticism are not plus, but they’re more than serviceable for a walk on and it’s not hard to envision Laketa spending a redshirt year to continue developing and eventually building into a scholarship-caliber player over the next five years in Iowa City.
So how does a walk-on prospect originally from Michigan, playing at a prep school in Massachusetts end up at Iowa? In what’s becoming a common refrain, the answer is a prior relationship with head coach Fran McCaffery.
Laketa’s father, Parker, is a former division one athlete himself having played two seasons at Kansas State. The elder Laketa averaged 3.7 points and 1.3 rebounds per game over two years in Manhattan before moving into coaching. He had stints at Illinois State and Western Michigan before landing at Notre Dame.
Parker Laketa spent his seven years in South Bend alongside former Notre Dame assistant and now Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. As we saw with CJ Fredrick’s uncle, Joe Fredrick, that apparently was enough to build a relationship where Laketa felt comfortable walking on in Iowa City. Hawkeye fans will now wait to see if this prior relationship has a better ending for the second generation or if it too will turn south with a potential transfer.
As with Fredrick and Austin Ash (and Nicholas Baer and..) before him, Laketa will be working to move from walk on to scholarship athlete during his time in Iowa City. He has the frame and the shooting ability. He won’t be relied upon early in his tenure, but he could be another in a line of walk-ons earning a spot under Fran before it’s all said and done.
The Hawkeyes have two scholarship players in the class of 2021 with Iowa native Payton Sandfort and the aforementioned Riley Mulvey. After adding former walk-on Austin Ash to scholarship, Iowa does have one open scholarship remaining in the class as the return of Jordan Bohannon does not count against the scholarship limit.
Welcome aboard Luc Laketa!