WEST DES MOINES — Iowa men’s basketball Coach Fran McCaffery knows the challenge ahead.
Replacing a dynamic scorer like Peter Jok, who spent the latter part of the week at the NBA Combine in Chicago, doesn’t happen with a snap of the fingers. He grew into the Big Ten’s leading scorer (19.9 ppg) as a senior and will likely catch the eye of an NBA team because of it.
As tall of an order as replacing him could be, McCaffery also knows how much experience — especially from young guys — he’ll have at his disposal.
“We’ve got some guys that can be special,” McCaffery said Friday at the 10th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Gala, which brings all four Division I men’s basketball coaches together. “They were special last year, but I do think you look at a guy like Tyler Cook, Jordan Bohannon and Cordell Pemsl and I think those guys will really take a big jump.
“I think Nicholas Baer will as well. He was sixth man of the year in the league last year and was really good. Next year I think he’ll probably solidify himself as a starter.”
McCaffery sees sophomore Isaiah Moss, who started the final 28 games last year and averaged 6.5 points, being toward the top of the list to fill Jok’s void. Cook, Bohannon and Pemsl are the trio of guys McCaffery hopes take that next step after getting a lot of minutes as freshmen.
Part of the continuing maturation for the Hawkeyes will happen overseas. Iowa will take its NCAA allowed foreign trip this summer, will have 10 practice days and travel to Germany, Switzerland and Italy. McCaffery hopes the difference in competition and style will be a good gauge on the amount of improvement his team makes during the summer.
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“We’ll bring Dom Uhl back home and give us an opportunity for our young big guys, Tyler Cook, Cordell Pemsl, Ryan Kriener to continue to develop,” McCaffery said. “Then our freshman guys coming in with Luka Garza, Jack Nunge and then my son Connor (McCaffery). But he also might be with the baseball team at that time, I don’t know.
“It’s also an opportunity for a guy like Nicholas Baer to recognize, OK, he’s going to be one of the leaders now as an upperclassman. I’m looking forward to having him in that role.”
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