NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – The most important Hawkeye in the 2012-13 season hasn’t officially begun his freshman year at Iowa. But his name is not Adam Woodbury.
The most important Hawkeye next season is a point guard. But his name is not Devyn Marble.
The most important Hawkeye next season is a redhead. But his name is not Aaron White.
As Mike Gesell goes, so goes Iowa next winter.
Halfway through the Prime Time League sessions, we media types are schmoozing over which five will start from Day 1, and which five will start in January when Big Ten Conference games begin. (Yes, I do think it makes a difference. I’m not sure Woodbury isn’t on the bench to begin his collegiate career, but I could see him in the starting lineup by Christmas.)
Of the many combinations, there’s a consensus on three locks to start barring injury. Marble. White.
And Gesell. The “other” four-star prospect in this ballyhooed class crafted by Fran McCaffery.
Do yourself a favor and slow your roll on Woodbury stepping in and going all Cody Zeller right away. He’ll take time to grow and learn and take his lumps in due time. The Hawkeyes have enough cooks in that kitchen, “Casa de Frontcourt,” anyhow. (More on that later.)
Fact is, Gesell’s stats in PTL games are impressive – he’s averaging 22.0 points and 6.0 assists, flashing an impressive shooting stroke – but numbers don’t do justice to the confidence with which he plays. This kid wants the keys to this smooth ride immediately, and it’s no secret the opportunity is there.
Me, I don’t know about letting a freshman waltz in and play 30 minutes a game right away, especially at the most important position on the floor. But when Marble – who’s really your only other option to run the point – admits yesterday he hasn’t played a minute of true point all summer, that’s kind of your tell right there.
Get to know Mike Gesell. The floor is his. Quite literally.
If you’re curious about the standings, with three weeks in the books and two more matchups to go in round-robin play, three times are tied for first at 2-1. Poor Culver’s, which is the Aaron White-Eric May-Anthony Clemmons squad, is yet to get on the board.
No indictment on White. He’s been arguably the most dynamic player in the whole exhibition, dropping 40 and 16 and making 15 of 21 shots inside the arc (15 of 21!!!) in an opening-week 97-94 loss to McCurry’s, which played the first half without Marble.
It’s summer, so it’s uncouth to freak out too much over body type at this stage.
Still, both Josh Oglesby and Zach McCabe have each put on weight since the end of last season. Oglesby’s arms are beefed up, looking much stronger, and he hasn’t lost his shooting touch. McCabe is heftier all around, which should help him battle in the paint, and he too has shot the ball well from outside.
The question is not of strength, but of fatigue. Can they run and gun in this offense while carrying more weight than normal? Again, it’s summer, so I’ll save the red flags. Just remember what happened when Melsahn Basabe was asked to weigh more than normal. #SophomoreSlump.
Eric May says he’s completely healthy. Jarrod Uthoff is just relieved to be home. More on that Wednesday.
Gabe Olaseni says he’s ready to compete. Melsahn Basabe agrees. More on that Thursday.
Iowa will not have trouble scoring the basketball. But can the Hawkeyes keep opponents under 75? That’s the question that could have Iowa and its fans flirting with March Madness, or just plain madness.