Opinion | Previewing what the Iowa men’s basketball lineup could look like in 2021-22

With the departures of Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon, and (maybe) Joe Wieskamp, here’s a look at the Hawkeye team that could take the floor next season.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa forward Keegan Murray attempts to shoot a basket during the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament semifinals against Illinois on Saturday, March 13, 2021 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes were defeated by the Fighting Illini, 82-71. No. 2 Illinois and No. 5 Ohio State will compete in the championship game tomorrow afternoon.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Luka Garza is gone. So is Jordan Bohannon. Joe Wieskamp, he’s a maybe. But what’s certain is the Iowa men’s basketball team that takes the floor next season will be very different than the one that just had its season ended.

This season’s Hawkeyes, after a third-place finish in the Big Ten and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, lost in the second round of March Madness.

Now, Iowa heads into next season having lost the program’s all-time leading scorer (Garza) and all-time leader in assists and 3-pointers (Bohannon, who it appears won’t be returning after the state’s name, image, and likeness bill did not pass). The consensus appears to be that Wieskamp — a second team all-Big Ten performer this season — will move on to the NBA, although he’s declined to address that subject to this point.

Heading into the 2020-21 season, expectations for Iowa were as high as they’d been in decades, as shown by the team’s No. 5 preseason ranking.

The Hawkeyes aren’t going to be as good next year as they were this year. But the team does have a promising young roster. At this point, who knows what that is going to turn into. But here’s a look at what life after Garza could look like from a lineup perspective.

Guard — Toussaint moves into a starting role; Fredrick gets his chance to shine

After injuries forced Joe Toussaint into the starting lineup as a freshman, going into this year as a sophomore (with Bohannon back as the starter) he was set up to lead Iowa’s second unit. But in February, the New York native was stuck on the bench.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball forward Jack Nunge to transfer

Toussaint (6-feet tall) was only playing about six minutes per game in February and looked lost when he was on the court. But suddenly to end the season, he played double-digit minutes in six of Iowa’s last seven games. McCaffery noted that Toussaint, with his elite quickness, played at a better pace at the end of the season, leading to fastbreak assists and getting to the rim rather than some of the reckless turnovers we saw earlier in the season.

Toussaint should be the starting point guard next season. Joining him at the two will be CJ Fredrick (6-3), a two-year starter in the backcourt.

Fredrick has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons, but when he’s been on the court he’s one of the elite shooters in the country (46.6 percent career 3-point shooter). With the team’s top-three scorers from this season presumably gone, he could be Iowa’s new top scoring option.

Toussaint and Fredrick as a backcourt combo also provides Iowa with solid perimeter defense.

Off the bench, Tony Perkins (6-4) and Ahron Ulis (6-3) will see expanded roles as well.

Forward — Time for Keegan Murray to become a star

RELATED: Joe Wieskamp’s future at Iowa unclear after Monday’s loss: ‘I’ll address that at a later time’

Keegan Murray (6-8) was a somewhat surprising breakout player last season. I didn’t expect him, as a freshman, to be as good as he was. From post defense to offensive rebounding to hitting a 3-pointer to coming up with a timely steal, Murray did everything for Iowa last season.

Next season, Murray becomes a centerpiece in Iowa’s lineup.

I think Patrick McCaffery (6-9) needs to start as well. As a freshman, Patrick McCaffery showed he is a scoring threat both from the perimeter and near the basket and Iowa is losing a lot of scoring from its starting five. Plus, like Murray, Patrick McCaffery is a lengthy player who is an asset in Iowa’s press defense.

But then I don’t know where that leaves Connor McCaffery (6-5), who started every game last season. I don’t see coach Fran McCaffery pulling him out of the starting lineup, so maybe Patrick McCaffery will take on a sixth-man role.

Fran McCaffery said all season that Kris Murray (6-8) wasn’t far behind Keegan Murray, so he should factor into the lineup as well. Incoming freshman Payton Sandfort (6-7) could earn some minutes here too.

Center — Goodbye, Luka Garza

Well, the Hawkeyes won’t be seeing the same sort of production out of this position next year.

For starters, Garza — the national player of the year and potentially the best player the program has ever had — is moving forward with his career. Replacing 24.1 points per game won’t be easy.

Jack Nunge, who led Iowa in bench points (7.1) and rebounds (5.3) per game last season before tearing his meniscus, has also moved on. Nunge announced last week that he will transfer to a school closer to his home in Newburgh, Indiana, at the end of the spring semester.

Josh Ogundele (6-10) should see an expanded role next season after playing sparingly as a freshman. He might have to, considering he’s the only true post player left on the roster. The transfer portal could also be an option for McCaffery and his staff to find a more experienced post player to add to the mix.

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