NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — Much of the intrigue surrounding the Iowa basketball team for next season involves who is going to step into the starting lineup in place of Devyn Marble and Melsahn Basabe.
There are plenty of realistic possibilities.
One starting spot could go to senior guard Josh Oglesby. Junior forward Jarrod Uthoff is a definite possibility. So is sophomore Peter Jok. Junior college transfer Trey Dickerson may have a shot.
And don’t discount the possibility of Gabe Olaseni making his first-ever appearance in the starting lineup during his senior season.
Olaseni already has played in 88 games at Iowa, but never has started so much as one game.
Adam Woodbury is entrenched at center and has started every game over the past two seasons. Olaseni has been his backup although he occasionally has played as many minutes.
But, in order for Olaseni to start next season, the 6-foot-10 native of London probably will need to play power forward.
That would be another first. Olaseni never has played a second at any position other than center in a game at any level, but he’s excited at the prospect of being a four instead of a five.
“I think I can definitely play the four,'' he said following a game in the Prime Time summer league. "I know I can guard fours. I just need to show offensively that I can space the floor and hit the mid-range shot, stuff like that.’’
Olaseni said he’s had plenty of experience in practice defending against Aaron White and Uthoff, both of whom can play both the three and the four.
If Olaseni can do it, the Hawkeyes would have one of the most imposing starting lineups in the country. Opponents would need to not only shoot over the 7-1 Woodbury and the 6-9 White but also Olaseni, who has a 7-5 wingspan.
“In terms of our zone, I think it would be good to have me, Woody and Whitey out there together or me, Woody and Jarrod,’’ Olaseni said.
Woodbury likes the idea, too.
“He complements my skills very well,’’ he said of Olaseni. “He’s a very good athlete and can do a lot of good things on the court.
“We’ve played together the last couple of years in practice. It hasn’t really meshed into the game yet, but I think Coach (Fran) McCaffery is going to look at it this year. If we play well, I don’t know why he wouldn’t play us together.’’
Oglesby, who has started only eight times in 93 career games, probably has the best chance of moving into the starting lineup. His experience, shooting ability and defensive skills probably give him an edge over the younger, more athletic Jok.
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“Obviously, Peter is a good player and we’re going to compete all summer and when practice starts,’’ Oglesby said. “Obviously, I’d like to be the starting two guard but if I’m not, I’ll be coming off the bench. I’ve done it for three years and it’s something I’m kind of used to.’’
Oglesby said his off-season focus is on demonstrating that he’s more than just a three-point shooting specialist.
“Shot-faking more, shooting my pull-up jump shot, trying to get to the foul line more than I did,’’ he said. “I only got to the free throw line 14 times last year. I think I can get myself going if I can get to the line and make a few free throws.’’
Uthoff also would seem to be an obvious choice to step into the starting lineup. He was the Hawkeyes’ fourth leading scorer last season at 7.6 points per game, more than either Basabe or Woodbury.
Jok had an up-and-down freshman season. He scored in double figures in six non-conference games, then went the entire month of February without scoring a point. He finished strong, scoring 10 points in an NCAA tournament loss to Tennessee.
He said he feels he’s primed to make a run at being a starter.
“That’s the plan. I want to go for that starting position and do whatever it takes,’’ he said. “If I don’t start, I’ll just do whatever I can to help the team win.’’