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IOWA HAWKEYES PLAYER PREVIEWS: AHMAD WAGNER

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Iowa's biggest incoming freshman is a bit of an enigma for 2015-16.

@Ahmad_Wagner

Ahmad Wagner

Bio: Freshman, 6'7, 225 lbs. (Yellow Springs, Ohio)
Last season: High school (Caring Is Creepy)

What we saw last season: Nothing, because going to high school basketball games where you don't know anyone playing is creepy.  But we've been told that Wagner is a versatile, athletic forward who could be too strong for most small forwards and too quick and athletic for most power forwards.  He might need some work on his outside shot if he's going to be a legitimate perimeter threat, but the tools are there.  In other words, he's basically Aaron White as a freshman.

What we need to see this season: Aaron White as a freshman.  The graduations of White and Gabe Olaseni leave Iowa woefully light on post players; it's basically Adam Woodbury at center.  And so, when Iowa goes small, guys like Wagner who can get to the rim and rebound are going to become crucial.  Thad Matta has made a career on guys like this at Ohio State, and Iowa is quietly building a program in that image.  The 11 points and 5 rebounds per game that Iowa got from White in 2011-12 might be a bit much here, if only because White was playing on a team where he could get 24 minutes a game and Wagner almost certainly won't.  But if Iowa can get similar production over Wagner's reduced minutes, he's a much-needed contributor and potential star.

Best case scenario: Wagner becomes a viable small-ball alternative in the post and shows some improvement with the jump shot.  By the end of December, a hyper-athletic frontline pairing with Dominic Uhl off the bench gives Iowa the fast-breaking, high-energy second line it needs against big, lumbering opponents like Purdue.  Wagner averages 8 points and 5 rebounds before that improved jump shot makes him the presumed starting small forward in 2016.

Most likely scenario: Before this summer, most of the recruitniks were salivating over Wagner more than any other incoming freshman, but much of that hype died down once he hit campus and expectations began to drop. Iowa needs him too much to even consider a redshirt, but Wagner may have trouble finding minutes on a team loaded with guys in his neighborhood size-wise. If that's the case, it could mean little more than spot duty for Wagner, and a Dom Uhl-like 10 minutes/2 points/2 rebounds per game is certainly a possibility.

One request: You're the somewhat-obvious replacement for a guy who set the program record for free throw attempts and, presumably, the record for two-handed dunks.  So while you might not see the court all that much this year, when you do, throw it down with authority.  It only took us a year to start using Dunk l'Orange on Aaron White, and we've got "Wagner Power Player" jokes loaded and fully operational.