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Hawk newbies wow fans early

BY KYLE MANN | JUNE 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Aside from the allure of Iowa’s star players, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Prime Time League is that fans get their first look at incoming talent.

This summer, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery put together a recruiting class making that aspect particularly exciting. With four freshmen and a junior-college transfer playing in the league, fans are getting to know a few of the newcomers.

Freshmen Andrew Fleming, Brandon Hutton, Ahmad Wagner, and Christian Williams have all proven to be among the most gifted players in Prime Time and transfer Dale Jones has elicited smiles around the gym in his first two games.

At 6-8 and 220 pounds, Jones has some room to fill out, but appears adequate physically to rebound effectively. What truly separates him though is his confidence and range as a shooter. Height and length allow him to get his shot off over most defenders, and early in the summer, it is clear that he will let it fly at any moment.

“Going down to Tyler, Texas, and playing for Mike Marquis (head coach at Tyler Junior College), he really instilled that in my game,” Jones said. “Playing free, playing with a lot of confidence, and using what I worked on outside the floor, on the floor.”

He followed a pedestrian showing in his first Prime Time game with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists in a loss on Sunday. Early in league action, he’s shooting 39 percent from 3-point land.

Hutton, who plays alongside Jones for coach Kevin Sanders, has been impressive in his own respect and also appears to be a candidate for early playing time under McCaffery.

The 6-6 wing is a strong, fluid athlete, and he scored 29 points with 14 rebounds in Waterloo on Sunday. His most impressive showing, however, came after his 8-point, 4-rebound début and away from the eyes of spectators.

“My goal is to be the best defensive player on the team, a lockdown defensive player. The best in the Big Ten, as a matter of fact,” Hutton told reporters after his first game. “I know that when I show Coach I can have lockdown defense, that will get me out on the floor.”

Wagner is similar to Hutton in size and as an athlete, and he has turned in two respectable performances. He recorded 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists June 18, followed by 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists on Sunday. Also a talented football player in high school, Wagner has a promising physical presence on the floor, particularly in transition.

Williams has shown elusive quickness in transition and uses his length to cause trouble defensively and create distance between the ball and defender when finishing at the rim. He and Fleming have played only one game, with Fleming dropping 25 on 10-of-19 shooting from the field while going 3-of-6 from deep.

Still early, fans have the rest of summer to watch the youngsters grow.

“That’s what has so many people out here,” Commissioner Randy Larson said. “We don’t know anything about them yet. That’s the beauty of it though, is that in a couple weeks I will know, because we get to see it for ourselves.”

Follow @KyleFMann for news, updates, and analysis of Prime Time League basketball.


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