Basketball

Much for Hawkeye men’s basketball to resolve in offseason

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Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp dunks during the Hawkeyes’ 81-69 loss to Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 21. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Things are unsettled on the Iowa men’s basketball roster and will stay that way for a while.

But “unsettled” is better than “chaotic,” which describes changes at many Division I programs this spring.

The expected happened Wednesday afternoon when Hawkeye wing Joe Wieskamp announced he was entering the 2021 NBA draft.

“It has always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA,” Wieskamp tweeted. “After talking to my family and the Iowa coaching staff I have decided to go through the NBA Draft process while maintaining my NCAA eligibility.”

Wieskamp said he would graduate this summer with a degree in finance.

Whether Wieskamp stays in the draft is one of multiple unanswered questions facing Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes this offseason. Which makes his team like so many in college basketball.

“Basically we have free agency,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Wednesday.

“I talked to a friend of mine yesterday, and he lost his three best players and he just signed five guys out of the (NCAA transfer) portal. He said to me ’It’s like putting an AAU team together.’”

NCAA Division I athletes in 2020-21 have the option to transfer elsewhere without sitting out a season. They were given a one-season blanket waiver because of the COVID-19 pandemic halting the 2019-20 season before it concluded.

On top of that, the NCAA gave 2020-21 student-athletes an extra year of eligibility should they want it. Wisconsin senior guard Brad Davison, who has played against Iowa in seven games, announced Wednesday that he would use it. So did Michigan senior guard Eli Brooks.

Meanwhile, the NBA draft combine will be June 21-27 instead of its usual May slot. The NCAA’s deadline for players without agents to withdraw from the draft isn’t set, but has been 10 days after the combine in the past. The draft is July 29.

“We’ve had a number of discussions, Joe and I,” McCaffery said Wednesday. “We met with folks from the NBA office yesterday in our best attempt to get him the most-accurate and up-to-date information. Those discussions will be ongoing because that stuff gets updated and you want him to have the best-possible information he can have.”

The 6-foot-6 Wieskamp averaged 14.8 points and 6.6 rebounds this season. He made 46.2 percent of his 3-point tries, and led the 22-9 Hawkeyes in steals.

What about Jordan Bohannon? The fifth-year guard and third-leading scorer on the Hawkeyes went through Senior Day ceremonies in March. In April, though, he suggested he might return for that extra season provided by the NCAA’s waiver.

“He’s making that decision and he’ll figure it out,” said McCaffery. “What he does, we’ll have that conversation. We’ve met after the season and we’re going to meet again, probably the next couple days or so just to get updated.

“So no decision there by him, but I’m sure that will come relatively soon.”

It’s a choice that would seem to be of great interest to Iowa’s younger guards like junior-to-be Joe Toussaint and sophomore-to-be Ahron Ulis.

“What do you tell any of your players at any point in time?” McCaffery said. “You tell them the truth.

“They’re smart guys, they came here with the expectation that certain players will leave at a certain time. Well, they may not. But at the same time, every one of those guys got an extra year of eligibility as well. So it’s just a different scenario that we’ll all faced with.”

Then there’s the matter of trying to fill a big hole. Center Luka Garza, the National Player of the Year, isn’t coming back for a fifth college season. Jack Nunge has transferred to Xavier.

The Hawkeyes need help in the middle, with only sophomore-to-be Josh Ogundele and 18-year-old incoming freshman Riley Mulvey as centers. Ogundele played 17 minutes last season.

It’s known McCaffery has met via Zoom with 6-9 post player Filip Rebraca, who averaged 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds for North Dakota in 2020-21. Rebraca has many suitors.

There are 1,350-plus players who have entered the transfer portal, but most aren’t 6-9 and can score 23 points on the road in the Big Ten, as Rebraca did at Minnesota last December.

“We have a need in the post,” McCaffery said, “and that’s what we’re going to address.”

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