Commentary: Iowa has potential to be versatile in 2013-14

BY MATT CABEL | JULY 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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After two full weeks of Prime Time League action, one bit of information has become clear: Hawkeye basketball will have a lot of depth for the 2013-14 campaign.

Iowa men’s basketball has become a program worth talking about. Top-100 recruits are seeking out Iowa City. Players such as Josh Oglesby — who might have seen significant playing time on previous teams — might not see as much if their skills don’t improve.

Returning its entire starting lineup and adding two immediate impact players in Peter Jok and Jarrod Uthoff will only make the Hawkeyes better than the team that earned 25 wins and ended its season at Madison Square Garden in the NIT Finals.

Just thinking about the number of starting lineups and rotations for the season gives me headaches — I don’t know how coach Fran McCaffery is going to do it. From what I’ve seen, Uthoff could easily take Melsahn Basabe’s spot in the starting lineup. He offers more height and versatility at the small forward than Basabe.

Basabe has improved, of course, but his jump shot remains somewhat unreliable. He brought energy and game-changing plays off the bench, sure, but Uthoff has a reliable jumper — from midrange and deep — and is capable of finishing at the rim and getting the ball into the paint.

Adam Woodbury is also making improvements, as is backup center Gabe Olaseni. Redshirt freshman Kyle Meyers might compete for playing time, too. The Alpharetta, Ga., native has shown glimpses of his talent in the summer league, including a variety of shooting abilities and some post-up moves.

True freshman Jok, once the top basketball recruit in the country, may be the solution to a team that struggled from behind the arc in 2012-13. Jok has a quick, confident release and can sink treys from anywhere in 3-point land.

Jok is the shooter Iowa needs and is exactly the type of player that will bring energy and skill into any lineup.

A second team led by Basabe, Jok, Clemmons and Olaseni has the potential to wreak havoc on other Big Ten teams. A starting lineup of those guys, including Aaron White, even has the potential to beat some of the weaker conference rivals or nonconference matchups.

The second team has the potential to be effective and give the starters valuable rest against tougher opponents. Talent creates a lot of lineup possibilities, and this team seems as though it has a lot of it.

All of this speculation has come without mentioning Devyn Marble. The team will clearly be under Marble’s leadership — and rightfully so. But with so many scoring options and potential threats, he needs to realize when it’s appropriate to shoot and when to pass.

It seems that Marble may be working on this; he’s been looking more for open teammates rather than shots in his two Prime Time League games so far.

Of course, the Iowa players aren’t going against the stifling Big Ten defenses they’ll face in the winter. This is merely a small sample size against weaker opponents. But seeing Jok shoot 10-for-15 against these defenses and seeing a role player like Olaseni drop 29 points while grabbing 15 rebounds — well, that’s what we should be seeing.

Iowa basketball has come a long way since McCaffery first arrived in 2010-11. This season will prove just how far this team has come.

And if the Prime Time League’s display of prowess is any indication, it’s quite a distance.

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