Opinion | Previewing what the Iowa men’s basketball lineup could look like in 2022-23

Time to replace another first-team All-American.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Tony Perkins shoots a layup during a men’s basketball game between No. 5 Iowa and No. 12 Northwestern in the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 10, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 112-76.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Well, time for the Iowa men’s basketball team to replace another first-team All-American.

Head coach Fran McCaffery’s squad entered the 2021-22 season with the daunting task of having to field a starting five without Luka Garza, the two-time National Player of the Year who broke the program’s all-time scoring record. The result? Well, sophomore Keegan Murray became an All-American himself on his way to breaking Garza’s single-season scoring record.

Despite losing Garza and being picked to finish ninth in the Big Ten by ESPN before the season, the Hawkeyes won 26 games and their first Big Ten Tournament title since 2006 (is it still too soon to mention the first-round NCAA Tournament loss?). Not bad. But now, just as it had to prepare for life after Garza, Iowa should start mapping out what life after Keegan Murray is going to look like. The only player in the country to average more than 23 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks per game last season — and he shot 55.4 percent from the floor and 39.8 percent from 3-point range while doing so — hasn’t declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, but c’mon.

Keegan Murray is a projected lottery pick. His college career is over.

Beyond losing the sophomore standout, Iowa will also be without Jordan Bohannon, the program’s all-time leader in games played, 3-pointers, and assists next season (for real this time). Oh, and fan-favorite sharpshooter Austin Ash is gone, too.

So, what’s the 2022-23 lineup going to look like? Below is an early guess.

G — Tony Perkins… top scoring option?

The Hawkeyes won 12 of their final 15 games after Perkins was inserted into the starting lineup in February. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Perkins averaged 11 points per game and shot 43.8 percent from the field in March, all while playing strong defense on the perimeter. His ability to create his own shot is a reason why he may be Iowa’s top scoring option heading into his junior season.

While Perkins continues to start at shooting guard, I’d expect Joe Toussaint to assume the starting point guard position again. Will that last this time around? Toussaint started the first 21 games of his junior season before being moved to the bench. While he still played out of control at points, Toussaint provided a spark off the bench during the second half of the season. When Iowa needed a steal (or five), someone to dive out of bounds after a ball, or elite quickness in transition or on a drive, Toussaint was the answer. He should get another shot at being Iowa’s primary ball-handler.

As for other players in the backcourt, expect Payton Sandfort to be Iowa’s top scoring option off the bench, although I think there’s a chance he could crack the starting lineup (maybe Perkins starts at point?). Sandfort shot 36.6 percent from deep as a freshman. He hit huge back-to-back 3s on consecutive possessions in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game. Expect a big jump for the sophomore next season. I see a Joe Wieskamp-caliber player in the lengthy sharpshooter from Waukee.

Ahron Ulis will be another key bench guard piece, likely as the No. 2 point guard.

F — Kris Murray’s turn to break out

There will still be one Murray on the Hawkeyes next season. A good one, too.

Kris Murray was Iowa’s leading bench scorer (9.7 points per game) last season and shot 38.7 percent from three. Kris will take Keegan’s place in the starting lineup next season. I’m not saying to expect Kris to have the type of season next year that his identical twin just had, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he has All-Big Ten potential. We’ve seen flashes of Keegan’s phenomenal play in Kris.

Enough with the Murrays. Onto the McCafferys.

Patrick McCaffery will be Iowa’s leading scorer among returning players. He enters his second year as a starter after posting 10.5 points per game in year one. Connor McCaffery went through Senior Night ceremonies and hasn’t committed to coming back for a final season, but I would expect him to.

The elder McCaffery brother would provide Iowa with a versatile defender, reliable ball-handler, and even a capable shooter (how about that?) if he does come back for season No. 6.

C — Hello, transfer portal

Not exactly a “center” as much as a post player, but Filip Rebraca will be back for his second season as a Hawkeye after posting 5.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in his first year after transferring in from North Dakota. Rebraca will likely be back in the starting lineup again. Still, expect Iowa to add another center/frontcourt piece from the transfer portal.

The only other centers on Iowa’s roster are Josh Ogundele and Riley Mulvey.

Ogundele can be a solid rotational piece against big teams like Purdue, as we saw in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game. But the traditional “big man” doesn’t exactly fit with Fran McCaffery’s free-flowing offense. As for Mulvey, Fran McCaffery has said repeatedly that he will be a good player for the Hawkeyes one day. I’m not sure that day is close to being here quite yet. A spot in the rotation isn’t out of the question — he also played against Purdue when Iowa needed a big body — but it doesn’t seem like he will play much of a role next season.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.