Bio: Freshman, 6'5", 206 lbs. (Nashville, Tennessee)
Last season: High School (Caring is Creepy)
What we need to see this season: Fleming generated plenty of buzz over the summer with his play in the Prime Time League. And while that may be a sign of good things to come in the future, this year doesn't exactly provide a huge opportunity for him to do very much. Not outside of shooting, anyway, as Fleming is coming into a very crowded back court situation as a freshman.
Once we get into Big Ten play, Mike Gesell will probably be playing something like 30 minutes per game, which leaves about 10 minutes per game for Anthony Clemmons to spell him at the point and another 10 to play at shooting guard. Peter Jok will be getting 25-30 minutes split between the two and three spots, while Jarrod Uthoff and Dom Uhl will probably be handling the small forward and some power forward duties. Fleming is primarily a shooting guard who will also probably play some small forward, but with experienced guys like Jok, Clemmons, Uthoff, and Uhl all ahead of him, there aren't a lot of minutes to go around. And all of that isn't even counting the fact that the Hawkeyes still have fellow shooter, Brady Ellingson, also coming off the bench.
Fleming should get plenty of opportunity to showcase his talents early in the season, though, before the conference schedule starts and before guys like Gesell and Uthoff are playing 30 minutes per game. And based on that aforementioned buzz he created over the summer, Fleming seems to have plenty of talent to showcase.
Looking at his high school highlight tape, and his Prime Time League one above, Fleming's game reminds me of a young Matt Gatens. At 6'5" and already over 200 lbs., Fleming isn't scrawny and his game isn't built on speed. Instead, he is primarily a long range shooter, who can also take the ball strong to the rim and finish in traffic. That second part of his game probably won't translate directly to college, where defenders are bigger and quicker, but the three-point shooting should hopefully be there from the beginning.
Overall, though, it's hard to envision a scenario in which Fleming does more than provide the Hawkeyes with some outside shooting for about 10 minutes per game (something like 15 in non-conference games and 5 in Big Ten games) that isn't caused by something horrific like AIRBHG's evil basketball-hating twin (AIBBHG?) murdering Iowa's entire back court. But if his shooting is as good as advertised, he would be a welcome addition to a team that could really benefit from good outside shooting this season.
Best case scenario: Fleming is simply too good to keep off the court, which is bad news for Brady Ellingson, who finds himself as the odd man out in the rotation once Big Ten play starts. Fleming's relentless energy and pure scoring ability not only make him the primary back-up to Peter Jok, but also get him quite a bit of time at the small forward position when McCaffery goes with a small lineup or utilizes Uthoff or Uhl at the four. That's still only good enough for like 15 minutes per game in conference play, however, as Iowa still has plenty of scoring options ahead of him. But his standout freshman year is good enough that he is a front runner to start at the two or three spot as a sophomore.
Most likely scenario: Fleming flashes serious talent in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Not only does he shoot the ball well, but he can put the ball on the floor and finish in traffic against lesser opponents. And his relentless energy and grit even show up with some impressive defense as a freshman. But once the weather gets really cold and the competition gets much tougher, Fleming's youth and inexperience start to show. He's good for the occasional three-pointer, but he's not a huge part of the offense and he's only playing something like 5 minutes per game against Big Ten teams. It's not because he's no good. It's just because Iowa has so many more experienced options to go with on the perimeter that Fleming can pretty much use this as a development year. He will have all the opportunity to make a legitimate impact as a sophomore.
One request: Please be as good as advertised from downtown. With only one guy over 6'9" this year and none next year (unless someone magically "grows" an inch or two), Iowa is going to need shooters to spread defenses out.