The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s basketball’s Ben Krikke proving to be one of college basketball’s most underrated players

The graduate transfer is a perfect fit for the Iowa Hawkeyes after a historic career at Valparaiso.
Cody Blissett
Iowa forward Ben Krikke prepares to go up for a shot during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Quincy at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. Krikke had 14 total points and 7 rebounds. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hawks, 103-76.

Iowa fifth-year forward Ben Krikke has provided a major spark for this year’s Iowa men’s basketball team. But long before he was a Hawkeye, he was just a Canadian with a dream.

Krikke was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, by his two parents, Kent and Aurelie Krikke. He grew up in a basketball family as his father was a former college basketball player and has run a basketball camp in Alberta for over 20 years.

Krikke has been around sports his whole life, either watching Edmonton Oilers hockey and Toronto Raptors basketball, competing in sports like badminton, volleyball, and various track and field events, or simply enjoying physical activities such as fishing and mountain biking.

Despite this, basketball was always his calling card.

“I went to my dad’s basketball camp when I was four or five,” Krikke said as he reminisced about his early years with his father to CBC News. “I just always loved the game, running up and down the floor with the older guys and just playing the game.”

Krikke attended Jasper Place High School in Alberta, where he became a star in his local area. He was one of 12 players selected to play for Team Canada in the FIBA U16 Americas Championship, which took place in Argentina in 2018.

Of those 12 players, Krikke was one of two players west of Ontario to be selected and the first Albertan at the time to be picked for a Canada basketball men’s team for a major international championship since Jordan Baker in 2011.

After a very successful high school career, the 2019 high school graduate accomplished his dream of playing basketball in the U.S. by committing to Valparaiso University.

“It’s very exciting; it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to go down to the [United] States and play the best basketball I can,” Krikke said at the 2019 Alberta Basketball All-Star Showcase. “Personally, I just want to develop my skills as much as possible with the help of the coaches down there.”

Krikke’s first collegiate season was a success, given that he played in all 33 games that season.

He averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds a game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 34 percent from three in just under 16 minutes a game throughout the year.

He finished fifth in the conference and second among freshmen in field-goal percentage on his way to nine double-figure scoring games, including three games of at least 15 points. His best game of the season came against Illinois State, where he led the team in points, rebounds, and assists with a 17/8/4 statline.

Krikke was thus thrust into a full-time role for the 2020-21 season.

The second-year started in every game that season and led the team in both overall scoring with 12.3 points per game and conference-only scoring with 13.1 points per game. He also averaged 4.2 rebounds and one assist in 28.3 minutes per contest.

Krikke topped his breakout season with various honors: MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team, MVC Most-Improved Team, and All-MVC Third Team — the only player in the conference to receive all three honors that season.

Krikke built off of his stellar second season with an even better third season. Though he missed the first three games of the year, his stats rose in all major categories as he averaged 14.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 54 percent shooting from the field and an improved 84 percent from the free throw line in 29 games.

Krikke finished the season 11th in the MVC in scoring average, eighth in field-goal percentage, and fifth in free-throw percentage. He was named to the All-MVC Third Team and the MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team for the second straight year.

His senior campaign was the year Krikke made a name for himself on the national scale — and in the eyes of the Iowa men’s basketball team.

Playing in all 32 contests for an average of 35.7 minutes per game, the fourth-year forward led the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring with 19.4 points per game overall and 21 points per game in conference play.

He also tallied 5.9 rebounds on a career-high two offensive rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 55 percent from the field, 28 percent from three, and 80 percent from the charity stripe.

He was again named to the All-MVC First Team, MVC Most-Improved Team, and MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team — once again being the only player in the conference to earn all three honors.

Upon graduation, Krikke etched his name into several all-time program statistical categories:

  • Sixth-most points scored in a season with 622
  • Fourth-most made field goals in a season — and the most by a Valparaiso player since 1972 — with 244
  • Seventh on the all-time scoring list
  • Sixth-highest career field goal percentage at 54.1 percent.

He also became just the third Missouri Valley Conference player since 2005 to average at least 17 points, five rebounds, 50 percent shooting from the field, and 75 percent from the free throw line.

Krikke wanted to play at an even higher level. And when Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery called his name, he answered.

After four years at Valparaiso, Krikke announced his commitment to play basketball for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to become a Hawkeye,” Krikke said. “I’m excited to be supported by such a vibrant fan base and to get to be a part of such a great community.”

Krikke fills a void in the post left by the departure of forwards Keegan and Kris Murray and Filip Rebrača. At 6-foot-9, he often opts to branch out beyond the paint and is now known for his red-hot mid-range jumpshot.

Throughout the first seven games of the 2023-24 season, Krikke leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game on 61/50/76 shooting splits.

He is also averaging 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals while playing a team-high 28.4 minutes per game.

“Ben can score in a variety of ways and shoots at a high percentage,” McCaffery said. “He is excellent in transition and has a high basketball IQ … Ben is a tremendous fit and addition to our program.”

Krikke has notched three 20-point games this year with 24 in a loss to Creighton and 25 and 21 in respective wins over Arkansas State and North Florida.

The big man has crafted his scoring efficiency over the course of his basketball journey from Canada to Valparaiso which has culminated in his progress in Iowa City this season — progress that is impressive but underrated on the national stage.

Should the Hawkeyes make a run for the Big Ten and, ultimately, NCAA titles in March, Krikke has the potential to prove his abilities to American basketball.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.