It’s been no secret the Iowa Hawkeyes have been in the market for a big man this offseason. With Filip Rebraca graduating, Kris Murray declaring for the NBA Draft and Josh Ogundele now off to Middle Tennessee State, there is a gaping hole in the post that Fran McCaffery needs to fill.
The first piece to that puzzle was the signing of the Missouri Valley Conference’s leading scorer in former Valpo big man Ben Krikke. While he alone won’t fill the void left by Rebraca and Murray, he’s a big starting point.
On Monday, the Hawkeyes added another piece to that puzzle when Iowa announced former Belmont big Even Brauns had signed.
The move had been rumored for weeks since Brauns entered the portal given he’s an Iowa City native and former teammate of current Hawkeye Patrick McCaffery. The former West High product has spent the last three years at Belmont in the Ohio Valley and then Missouri Valley Conference.
As a junior at Belmont last year, Brauns averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.4 blocks per game while starting 29 of the 30 games her appeared in. Brauns posted double figures ten times last season with four double-doubles while shooting 58% from the floor. He scored a career-high 19 points with 7 rebounds and 3 steals vs Bethel in 2022.
Talking with Hawkeye Sports, Brauns said the return to Iowa City was a dream come true.
“GETTING THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME HOME AND PLAY FOR THE HAWKEYES IS ONE OF THE PROUDEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE. I AM THRILLED TO RETURN HOME AND PLAY IN CARVER-HAWKEYE ARENA IN FRONT OF THE BEST FANS IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL. I AM EXCITED TO PLAY WITH MY NEW TEAMMATES BECAUSE THERE IS A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY FOR NEW FACES TO EMERGE IN LARGER ROLES THIS YEAR. I AM THANKFUL FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY AND EAGER TO GIVE ALL THAT I HAVE TO THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA.”
Listed at 6’9” and 240 pounds, Brauns has a similar build to the departed Filip Rebraca with more athleticism. His offensive skillset is not that of Rebraca, but adding a body with that build is a major benefit to the Hawkeyes in 2023-2024. He brings some scoring ability on the low block, along with rebounding and someone capable of defending the post immediately.
With Ogundele gone, the Hawkeyes are left with the incoming Krikke and junior Riley Mulvey as true post players. Iowa also has 6’9” Ladji Dembele and 6’10” Owen Freeman coming in this summer, but neither have division 1 experience in the post.
While initially rumored to be a potential walk-on, Brauns confirmed on Monday he is indeed scholarship player who will have two years of eligibility remaining for the Hawkeyes. Including Brauns and Krikke, the Hawkeyes still have an open scholarship for the 2023-2024 season assuming Kris Murray remains in the NBA Draft.
Welcome aboard Even Brauns!