2024-25 Big Ten offseason at a glance: Iowa Hawkeyes

  • 05/23/2024 7:51 am in

Welcome to “Big Ten offseason at a glance,” a team-by-team look at the conference at the start of the summer. We’ll examine roster movement for each Big Ten roster and give an early outlook for each Big Ten program for the 2024-25 season.

Previously: Penn State, Minnesota, Illinois

Today: Iowa (19-15 overall in 2023-24, 10-10 in Big Ten play)

Iowa missed the NCAA tournament and finished No. 57 in the final KenPom ratings for the 2023-24 season. Fran McCaffery is entering his 15th season in Iowa City and has never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen or won a conference title.

Iowa roster movement

Players returning with eligibility remaining: Brock Harding, Josh Dix, Owen Freeman, Pryce Sandfort, Ladji Dembele, Even Brauns, Riley Mulvey

Players departing due to exhausted eligibility: Ben Krikke

Players testing the NBA draft: Payton Sandfort

Players who departed via the transfer portal: Tony Perkins (to Missouri), Patrick McCaffery (to Butler), Dasonte Bowen (to St Bonaventure)

Players arriving via the transfer portal: Drew Thelwell (from Morehead State), Seydou Traore (from Manhattan)

Players arriving via high school: Cooper Koch (247Composite top 80), Chris Tadjo

Iowa currently has two scholarships open for next season unless Sandfort opts to return for a fourth season. He’s currently projected as a second-round pick in most mock drafts. The deadline for Sandfort to make a decision is May 29, 2024, at midnight ET.

What to like about Iowa

If Sandfort returns, he’ll be one of the best wing scorers in the Big Ten. He shot close to 38 percent on 3s last season and had one of the top 20 offensive ratings in the conference in league play.

But there are pieces on this roster beyond Sandfort. Freeman was the Big Ten’s freshman of the year and was highly efficient and productive in his first season. With an offseason of development, it’s fair to expect him to raise his game to another level.

Dix returns as a capable shooter in the backcourt who was a starter. The younger Sandfort, Pryce, should be more productive with a season of experience under his belt. Two transfer portal additions, Thelwell and Traore, should be starters from day one. Thelwell should start at the point, with Traore taking Krikke’s minutes at the four.

What to question with Iowa

If Sandfort stays in the NBA draft, there’s a good chance Iowa is one of the bottom three teams in the Big Ten next season. It’s no exaggeration to state that Iowa’s chances to be competitive in the conference next season hinge on his decision.

In the bigger picture, it’s also fair to wonder if Iowa has already hit its peak under McCaffery. His teams have produced high-level offenses on an annual basis but haven’t defended well enough to make any noise in the NCAA tournament. Last season, Iowa finished 157th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings.

If Iowa struggles again next season, the conversation around the program’s direction under McCaffery will intensify.

Iowa’s outlook for the 2024-25 season

Here’s Iowa’s Big Ten schedule for next season:

Home: Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue, Washington
Away: Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers, UCLA, USC
Home/Away: Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin

The Hawkeyes are currently No. 50 in Bart Torvik’s ratings for next season and that includes Sandfort returning to school, which most believe is the expectation. If he leaves, the Hawkeyes will likely drop 20 spots in the rankings.

If Sandfort comes back, the trio of him, Freeman, and Dix is a solid one to build around. The Hawkeyes are hoping Thelwell can seamlessly take over for Perkins, which could be a stretch given that Perkins was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season.

Even if everything goes right for Iowa next season, the Hawkeyes are likely a fringe NCAA tournament team in year 16 of the McCaffery era.

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