Kriener looking toward future after season cancellation

After putting up the best numbers of his career, Ryan Kriener is looking toward a professional basketball future.


Nichole Harris

Iowa forward Ryan Kriener and Iowa guard Luka Garza fight for the rebound during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Penn State on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 77-68.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

If anyone would have looked at Wikipedia shortly after the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was canceled, they would have seen Iowa listed as the national champions.

Hawkeye fans have Ryan Kriener to thank for that.

After the Big Ten Tournament was canceled and before the NCAA Tournament got shut down, Kriener called dibs on the national title through Twitter.

He even has a T-shirt to prove it. And there’s a TikTok or two he created to get him through the tough weeks after seeing his four-year Hawkeye career come to an end with no postseason.

“I don’t know if it’s how I maybe cope with hurt feelings,” Kriener said. “I just try to cover it up with humor and make a laugh out of things or just the sense of disbelief and not really believing it was over.”

Whatever the case may be, one thing’s for sure: Kriener never made the situation about him.

He’s one of two seniors on Iowa, but he said he feels just as bad for everyone on the roster.

Bakari Evelyn went to three different schools trying to play in the NCAA Tournament. He never received the chance.

Luka Garza put up one of the most dominant seasons in Iowa history while getting snubbed for some national player of the year awards. Maybe a run in the postseason would’ve helped his chances. No one will ever know.

RELATED: Garza looking for ‘real opportunity’ in NBA Draft process

Then there’s Connor McCaffery and Joe Toussaint, who Kriener took pride in watching step up when the Hawkeyes needed them.

Iowa forward Ryan Kriener high-fives fans as he leaves the court following a men’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Huskers at Carver-Hawkeye arena on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers 96-72.

That’s what hurt Kriener. When he looks back at his four years, he’s most proud of his teammates.

That says something for someone who kept getting better as each year progressed.

In his final season with Iowa, Kriener put up career-bests in nearly every statistical category, averaging 7.7 points on 54 percent shooting to go along with 4.1 rebounds per game.

Kriener said he was pretty set on hiring an agent and pursuing a professional career after the 2019-20 season. Ending his career in the second week of March after churning out the best numbers of his career still turned out to be difficult.

“It makes it pretty tough,” Kriener said. “I was having the best year of my career, and we were really poised to have a good run. But we just didn’t get to do that.”

Now, Kriener is on to the next chapter in his career.

He’s been going through the process of hiring an agent. BDR Sports, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, announced on Twitter and Instagram it had added Kriener as a client on Sunday.

Kriener said there are a few NBA teams interested in bringing him in for workouts and that he could end up in Germany, Belgium, or Italy if the NBA doesn’t work out.

It’s been a quick turnaround for Kriener. But with his season ending early, he doesn’t have a choice but to prepare for the future.

“I made a joke with one of my friends the other day — it kind of feels like I got traded,” Kriener said. “I was just playing for the Hawks, living out some childhood dreams. Now, I’m in a completely new boat, and I’m trying to find my way.”