Iowa basketball's 2015-16 schedule still isn't locked into place yet -- although we do know pretty much all of the interesting opponents Iowa will play next year -- but now we're starting to find out a bit about their 2016-17 schedule. In particular, we now know which early season tournament Iowa will be playing in during non-conference play in the fall of 2016 -- the Emerald Coast Classic
Emerald Coast Classic tournament director Maury Hanks has confirmed to The CA that Memphis, Iowa, Providence, Virginia in 2016 event.— L. Jason Smith (@TheCAJasonSmith) July 9, 2015
We found out this piece of information thanks to an unlikely source -- the transfer of former Memphis standout Austin Nichols. Memphis placed restrictions on Nichols' transfer destinations, including local rivals (Tennessee), conference opponents (the American Athletic Conference), and teams on future non-conference schedules (hey, that's us!).
Can't go to Iowa, Providence or Virginia because Memphis could face those schools in 2016 Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Fla.— L. Jason Smith (@TheCAJasonSmith) July 9, 2015
The Emerald Coast Classic is a new entrant in the pre-season hoops circuit -- so new, in fact, that their first ever edition was last fall. The inaugural tournament was held in Destin, FL (in the Florida panhandle) over Thanksgiving weekend and was headlined by Creighton, Ole Miss, and Cincinnati; Ole Miss beat Creighton in the championship game. The 2015 field is toplined by Illinois, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, and UAB.
The 2016 field looks like the best yet -- Virginia has been a powerhouse in recent years, Iowa and Providence are fresh off back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament and Memphis has had a lot of success lately as well. Of course, it's also hard to project the future -- we don't know how good those teams will be in 2015, let alone how good they might be a year later. Providence's recent success has been fueled in part by star player Kris Dunn (co-Big East Player of the Year in 2015), but he'll be gone in 2016. Virginia will be without several players from their recent dominant teams as well (and -- who knows? -- maybe even head coach Tony Bennett as well if he follows Barry Alvarez's siren song to Madison after Bo Ryan's retirement next year). Even Iowa is a big question mark, since that 2016 team will be without the services of several key seniors (Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, Anthony Clemmons) from the 2015 squad.
That uncertainty is part of what makes Iowa's inclusion in this event so exciting, though -- this event is likely to be one of our first opportunities to see how the new-look 2016 Hawkeye squad, likely built around Peter Jok, Dom Uhl, and whichever players from Iowa's massive 2015 recruiting class emerge as top players, looks against quality opposition. It will be weird to see an Iowa team without Woodbury's elbows, Uthoff's silky smooth jumper, Gesell's hell for leather drives into the paint, and Clemmons' tenacious defense. The Emerald Coast Classic may end up being our first real look at what the post-Woodbury/Gesell/Uthoff/Clemmons era of Iowa hoops will look like.
H/T to commenter Mex_