One of the staples of every team that has made a deep NCAA Tournament run over the past 20+ years has been high quality guard play. In years past, basketball was a big man’s game and the teams with the most dominant inside presence were most impossible to topple. But the game has changed and now relies on three point shooting, ball handling and pressure defense.
The key criticism of Fran McCaffery during his tenure as Iowa head basketball coach has been a lack of success in those post-season runs. Some of that was put to bed a season ago when the Hawkeyes went on a run to win the Big Ten Tournament. But it roared back when Iowa was upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
So it should come as no surprise that Fran continues to look for answers that are a bit different from what we’ve seen in the past in Iowa’s backcourt. After six years of Jordan Bohannon being an elite shooter with limited ability off the bounce, Fran leaned in on a player who may look similar in stature but is much more of a crafty ballhandler than the departed Bohannon.
Enter Moline native Brock Harding, who made things official on Wednesday.
Harding is a 3-star point guard who, like Bohannon, comes in at just 6’ and under 160 pounds as a high school senior. He’s a plus ball-handler with enough quickness and finesse to maneuver through a crowded defense to either dish or score. Despite the inevitable Bohannon comparisons, his films reminds a bit more of current Hawkeye PG Dasonte Bowen.
The Moline, Illinois native boasts a nice array of finishing moves through traffic, including a solid mid-range pullup jumper, as well as a nice soft floater that should come in handy against taller Big Ten opponents. But what could really set him apart is his passing ability. The quick first step from Harding allows him to get deep into the paint where he does a good job of keeping his eyes up to find open shooters or cutting big men as defenders collapse.
Brock Harding has committed to Iowa! pic.twitter.com/xMQ3Jd73yR— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) June 23, 2022
One such big man is fellow Iowa commit Owen Freeman, who Harding has played with on the AAU circuit for years at MidPro Academy, and now joins him at Moline High School. The two have a great rapport and should step on campus in Iowa City with an immediate feel for each other’s games.
What could take Harding to the next level as a Big Ten player would be further growth in his abilities as a shooter. He comes in as a solid, if not great threat from deep, but seems determined to make it impossible for defenders to sag off of him thanks to his work ethic. As WQAD sports reporter Matt Randazzo detailed last winter, Harding starts each day by getting 1000 shots up, rain or shine, before going about his business.
WATCH- While most are sleeping @hardingbrock2 is working on his craft & the results show on court & in recruiting. Click link for full story! @turn212 @ClementeKid21 @JordanDelp21 @MolineBoysBball @MolineAthletics— Matt Randazzo (@MattRandazzo) January 28, 2022
FULL STORY https://t.co/ai54vbTe6p pic.twitter.com/Ii8R494Opr
Look for Harding to come in next fall as a candidate to back up current point guards Ahron Ulis and Dasonte Bowen, allowing Tony Perkins to be more of a hybrid point guard-shooting guard. As noted, Harding has a slightly different skillset than the other two PGs already on the roster and should have an opportunity to contribute day 1.
Beyond his first season on campus, look for the youngster to continue to fill out and build strength to finish through traffic while continuing to improve his outside shot. Harding looks like a candidate to be a real nightmare to defend by the time he leaves Iowa City.
Welcome aboard, officially, Brock Harding!