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Hawk Talk

A look at returning Hawkeye basketball players

By Don Lund
Sports Writer
This is the second part of talking Iowa basketball with assistant coach Sherman Dillard.
Last week, I talked about Iowa winning 25 games, which is tied for the second most wins ever.
They have never gone to the finals of the NIT until last year and they played in 38 games which is the most games played in one year.
The Hawks also won 18 home games, including two in the NIT, which is the most home wins in a season.
I talked about Devyn Marble and Aaron White. Devyn led the team in scoring, assists, steals and most 3-pointers.
Aaron led the team in rebounds, was second in scoring. He and Adam Woodbury started 38 games, the most ever for the Hawkeyes.
This week I’ll talk about the rest of the players coming back with assistant coach Sherman Dillard and the new recruit, Peter Jok.
Melsahn Basabe is going into his senior year with 122 career blocked shots. That ranks fifth all time at Iowa. He is also one of only four Hawkeyes to lead the team in blocked shots three straight seasons.
Mel started all 31 games as a freshman, 21 as a sophomore and the last 18 games last season.
“He came on strong particularly at the end when he was in the starting lineup,” said coach Dillard. “The thing with Mel is when he can sustain the level of effort and concentration we realized we could play him in certain windows and if we stretched that window out he was less effective.”
Gabe Olaseni provided a spark off the bench on defense, especially with blocked shots.
Gabe had 36 blocked shots, the third most ever in a single season for a Hawkeye sophomore.
“I can’t say enough about that young man’s work ethic,” said the coach. “He is easily the most improved player. He was a terrific presence for us down low, he has an incredible motor and is a great teammate.”
Zach McCabe, who will be a senior this fall, is the blue collar man for the Hawkeyes.
Zach led the team in rebounding seven times, shot 32 percent from 3-point range and 76 percent from the free throw line. He also led the team in fouls, some of which were close calls and could have gone either way.
“Zach does get a lot of fouls setting screens,” said Sherman. “He is a terrific worker, can score in a variety of different ways and he’s so tough and so strong down low. He knows what he can do and he does it pretty well.”
Josh Oglesby is another one of the guys that I think has a chance to be great.
I saw Josh hit 10 to 15 in a row from 3-point range in warm ups before games and then when the game gets started go 1-4 or 1-5.
Josh was second in 3-pointers made and improved his ball handling and defense last season.
“Josh has a pure shot and in practice he can come out on fire,” said the coach. “Shooting is a very mental part of the game. It takes a terrific mindset to be able to have the confidence in your shot and sometimes Josh would waver in that confidence. I really believe he’s a good shooter and eventually he will get that confidence and be great. We always encouraged him and he has the blessing of the coaching staff to take shots.”
For 13 games last year, in the middle of the season, the Hawkeyes started three freshmen. That’s going to pay off big time in the future.
You start with 7-1 center Adam Woodbury, who tied Aaron White with a school record 38 starts.
I liked the way Adam didn’t back down when he went up against sophomore Cody Zeller from Indiana. Cody was All-Big Ten and is turning pro next season.
Adam got into foul trouble in both games against Cody but scored a total of eight points and had 11 rebounds.
The big man from Sioux City led the Hawks in blocked shots 10 times, rebounding six times and showed he can score with either hand down low.
Mike Gesell started 34 games and was a top-100 recruit like Adam. Both proved why they were ranked.
Mike was the third leading scorer (8.7), shot 41 percent from the floor, almost 80 percent from the free throw line and scored in double figures 14 times. He had 89 assists, which was third best on the team.
“Mike was terrific for us,” said the coach. “He understands the game, is a terrific shooter and played well at the two guard. I think that versatility to be able to play the one and two spot has made him the player that he is.”
Anthony Clemmons started 13 games last year, hit 73 percent from the free throw line and made some big plays.
“Anthony worked on consistency all year,” said Sherman. “On offense, defense and ball handling. Having to play so many minutes as a freshman will bode well for him moving forward.”
The Hawkeyes will have three new players in the mix for next season.
Kyle Meyer, a 6-10, 229-pound forward will bring size down low. Kyle was a four-year starter in high school and averaged 18.2 points and 12.9 rebounds his senior season.
Jarrod Uthoff (6-9, 215) has sat out two years after transferring from Wisconsin.
Jarrod was named 2011 Mr. Basketball and 2011 Gatorade Player of the year. He averaged 26.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game his senior year at Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
I saw them both play last summer in Prime Time and they both can score inside and out.
“Both have tremendous skill set,” said coach Dillard. “Jarrod is probably a little bit ahead of Kyle and is a little stronger. Jarrod shoots really well from the perimeter, has a toughness about him and defends really well. They both practice well.”
Peter Jok, Iowa’s only recruit, was the top rated freshman IN THE NATION.
Peter, who is from West Des Moines Valley, tore his knee up in his sophomore year and a lot of the big schools backed off… but not the Hawkeyes.
Last season, Peter averaged 23.6 points, shot 43 percent from 3-point range and shot 92 percent from the free throw line.
“He’s long and he has the ability to shoot deep,” said the coach. “He has been able to rebound from that injury. I don’t know if he’s 100 percent. He’s developed his game and has gotten a lot smarter and more creative on ways to score.”
Iowa gets a European vacation at the end of the summer and that will give the Hawks a chance to see the new players, experiment with the rotation and play against good competition. I’m ready for Prime Time in June!