Adam Woodbury Will Be Missed

Mar 18, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Adam Woodbury (left) hugs guard Anthony Clemmons (5) after making the game-winning basket against the Temple Owls in overtime in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Adam Woodbury (left) hugs guard Anthony Clemmons (5) after making the game-winning basket against the Temple Owls in overtime in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

Adam Woodbury had a bigger impact than you may think

Iowa basketball will look a lot different this season. They lost four seniors to graduation, and will be relying heavily on now senior Peter Jok and freshman Tyler Cook. While Cook was an ESPN Top-100 recruit, it’s risky to rely on freshmen, especially just one. Powerhouses like Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky are able to get away with it because they land multiple top-10 recruits, although experience and depth was the key to Iowa’s surprise success last season.

The loss of Jarrod Uthoff, one of the most prolific scorers in the nation last season, will be felt hard right away. Not having his scoring versatility and shot blocking is a huge loss for the Hawkeyes. Although, Adam Woodbury, Iowa’s center over the past four seasons, isn’t someone many people are devastated to see leave, but his absence will be felt.

Woodbury was the hometown kid who turned down offers from North Carolina, Stanford and Wisconsin to stay in Iowa and play for the Hawkeyes. In a recruiting class that gave Iowa three future starters, Woodbury stood out. ESPN ranked him as the seventh best center in the class of 2012 and the 39th best player overall. He even earned himself a 95 rating.

To put that in perspective, only 10 players in the class of 2016 received a grade higher than 95. In fact, Tyler Cook, who ESPN ranked as the 38th best recruit in his class, only received a grade of 87. While high school rankings don’t always turn out to be correct, it was hard to imagine Woodbury becoming a bust in college and not getting a shot in the NBA.

Although, he didn’t pan out to be a star for the Hawkeyes, rather he ended up being a fringe starter at times. Woodbury started to figure it out a little as a senior as he posted 7.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, although he was about four years late with those numbers. Sure, his improvement over four years was promising, however he was never close to reaching the heights that many Hawkeyes fans were expecting from him.

Despite being 7-1, he was never a great shot blocker and he could only score near the basket. What will likely be the biggest basketball moment of his career came in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this past year when he made the overtime buzzer beating tip-in to put Iowa past Temple.

But, when it comes down to it, the career of Adam Woodbury leaves a sour taste in many people’s mouths. Rightly so, but the Hawkeyes will miss him this season.

I fully expect Tyler Cook to be a major part of the Hawkeyes game plan right away. They’ll run plays through the athletic power forward, and having a big man with the athleticism that Cook holds will be refreshing.

With that being said, Woodbury’s size in the paint will be something the Hawkeyes fan will wish they had. Being 7-1 in college is rare. Most players are 6-10 or 6-11, but very rarely do you find a true seven-footer. Sure, Woodbury could have been a dominating defensive anchor in the paint, but his pure presence down low can’t be understated.

Although, his dominance on the glass is something Iowa will have a hard time replacing. Woodbury averaged a Big Ten-high 8.3 rebounds per game last season. Being the only player over 6-9 gave him the responsibility of dominating the glass, and he did just that.

Still, Iowa ranked just 12th in the Big Ten in defensive rebounds last season, and ninth in rebounding margin – averaging just 0.9 more rebounds per game than their opponents. To be fair, they did rank third in offensive rebounds, but Woodbury grabbed a Big Ten-high 102 offensive boards last season.

With Uthoff the only other player on Iowa averaging more than five boards per night last season, rebounding could end up being a huge problem for the Hawkeyes as Woodbury, their rebounding anchor over the past couple of seasons, is now gone. Considering Iowa was an average rebounding team with the Big Ten leader in rebounds per game last season, someone will have to step up this season or they’ll get dominated on the glass.

With Cook, Dom Uhl and Ryan Kriener the only players listed at 6-9 this season, the Hawkeyes will be very undersized. While that could be detrimental on the defensive glass, it will surely hurt them on the offensive end.

Uhl was third on the team with 3.6 rebounds per game, and a bigger role should see his production increase, however, that is still a far cry from the numbers Woodbury was putting up. Not to mention that Cook’s game doesn’t revolve around rebounding, rather he was an elite scorer alongside Jayson Tatum in high school.

Plus, Woodbury was as durable as they come. He started in 137 of 138 games for the Hawkeyes and never missed a game during his four seasons with the Hawkeyes. Finding a bench player who can play through injuries, or just stay healthy, is rare, let alone a starter who saw 25.7 minutes per game as a senior. Durability isn’t a sexy thing to talk about, however, knowing your starting center will always be able to suit up is huge for a coach.

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When it comes down to it, Woodbury’s lack of stardom was very disappointing. If he were a three star recruit then their would have been less hate thrown at him throughout his four seasons. Although, his rebounding and presence in the paint isn’t something Iowa can replicate this season.

With Iowa rarely running a play through Woodbury, his 7.6 points per game last season came from cleaning up on the glass and doing the dirty work. With Nicholas Baer now expected to fill that role this season, his three-point shot should help space the floor more than Woodbury’s minimal movement but his ability to consistently grab rebounds is in question.

With that being said, rebounding is one of the most important facets of the game and the Hawkeyes lost the best rebounder in the Big Ten from a season ago. He’s not an All-American, but when Iowa’s rebounding margin is worse this season, it’ll be easier to appreciate Woodbury’s one-dimensional game and how he was able to carve a niche out for himself.