Isaiah Moss: The Forgotten Man

Mar 5, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffery coaches during the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffery coaches during the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Isaiah Moss redshirted last season, but you shouldn’t forget about him heading into 2016-17

With the Iowa Hawkeyes needing to replace four starters this season, someone will have to step up in order for Iowa to avoid a disastrous season. Peter Jok is the lone senior expected to be in the starting lineup as he burst onto the national scene at the end of last season and will now take a crack at being the team’s leader. Freshman Tyler Cook was a highly coveted recruit this year, and should turn some heads with his play as a freshman.

Although, redshirt freshman, Isaiah Moss, has seemingly been forgotten about by many. Redshirting in football is a common occurrence, although it’s not seen as often in basketball. It was the route that Jarrod Uthoff chose when he was with Wisconsin as a freshman, and he played a factor in Isaiah Moss also choosing that route.

Moss didn’t arrive to campus until right before fall semester started last year, meaning he missed all summer workouts. Instead of having him fight for minutes on a deep bench, Fran McCaffery approached Moss about redshirting. It seems that Moss made the right choice, despite being the Hawkeyes top recruit in 2015 and earning a rating of 80 by ESPN.

Moss went to high school in Chicago, at the well-known Simeon Academy that has a long history of producing NBA players – such as Jabari Parker and Derrick Rose in recent years. He ended up being the 10th best player coming out of the state of Illinois, and chose the Hawkeyes over Iowa State and Auburn. While Moss’ explosive offensive game could have found some sort of role off the bench last season, having his production in 2016-17 will be felt more.

In a sense, it’s like Iowa landed three-four star recruits this season – Moss, Cook and Jordan Bohannon. In a year where the roster turnover for Iowa is at an extreme high, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Hawkeyes were ranked as high as third in the nation last season, while finishing the season with a blowout loss to Villanova in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and being ranked #25. They got hot for a couple of months in the middle of the season and couldn’t be beat, although, the reality is Iowa wasn’t much more than just a solid team.

Their 77.6 points per game ranked 63rd in the nation and they gave up 69.3 points per contest, ranking just 108th. Sure, Uthoff was an All-American, however after Uthoff and Jok, the Hawkeyes struggled to find a consistent scorer at times. In fact, Dom Uhl was their lone bench player to average more than five points per game, which led to four starters playing close to 30 minutes per night.

The impact of Tyler Cook’s post game will be felt right away, giving the Hawkeyes some stability in the front court following the departure of Uthoff. He was a dominating scorer alongside Jayston Tatum at Chaminade in high school and will have a huge role as a starter for the Hawkeyes. Although, Isaiah Moss, the forgotten man, has a chance to have just as big of an impact and develop into a solid scoring option off the bench.

On a team that will be searching for their identity early, McCaffery should have a lot of position battles and be testing a lot of different lineups at the start of the season. This gives Moss, a four star recruit just a year ago, a huge opportunity to impress the coaching staff right away and earn minutes off the bench.

Brady Ellingson, who played in 27 games, and Andrew Fleming, who played in 12 games, will also be fighting for minutes. While Ellingson shot a decent 45.9 percent from the field last season, Fleming only connected on 36.4 percent of his shots. Granted it was in inconsistent minutes and a small sample size, but Moss’ offensive arsenal at Simeon would give the Hawkeyes a much-needed boost on offense that they were lacking last season.

Moss won’t be able to fill in at point guard, a position in which the Hawkeyes lost two quality players. He’s not a good enough playmaker and doesn’t own the handles to be the main ball-handler. Moss does add another scoring option, though, and brings great athleticism to a roster that lacked in the area a season ago.

At Simeon, Moss was no stranger to putting down a highlight reel dunk, as well as being a creative finisher at the rim. Having a player who can put down a big dunk isn’t a necessity on a winning basketball team, rather something that’s just fun to see. At the same time, with Iowa’s inability to create offense at times, extra athleticism is a way to fix that. Moss’ big dunks will make the highlight reels at the end of the season, but he was a phenomenal finisher at Simeon, being able to go around multiple defenders at the basket, avoiding getting his shot blocked.

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Pair his athleticism with his outside shot and Moss has a chance to be an offensive threat right away as a redshirt freshman. He’s not a sharpshooter, per say, however, teams have to keep an eye on him, especially with all the other shooters on the team. With the extra attention being put on Jok and Uhl, it leaves the lane open for Moss to take advantage of, as well.

Last season, the Hawkeyes prided themselves on solid three-point shooting. They attempted 719 threes last season, with Uthoff and Jok each averaging more than five per game. Also, Iowa had four players shooting over 38 percent from three and their 37.4 three-point percentage ranked 48th in the nation. With Jarrod Uthoff (38.4 three-point shooter) and Mike Gesell (34.8 three-point shooter) both graduated, someone on Iowa will need to step up.

When it comes down to it, the unique style of play that Moss holds puts stardom in college as a possibility for him. He’s quick, strong, can finish at the rim and is a solid outside shooter. There is no doubting that he’ll have to earn his minutes, but after a year practicing with the team and learning, he should be more than ready to jump in and help Iowa this season.

must read: Iowa Ranked 17 in Preseason AP Poll

Plus, adding another 6-5 shooting guard/small forward to the mix adds a lot of versatility to the rotation, adding multiple more lineups to the mix, as well. Christian Williams is a potential point guard option at 6-6, and Jok should see time playing the point this season too. With Dom Uhl a 6-8 small forward, Iowa could have one of the tallest back courts in the country this season. That would be a big change from a starting lineup that featured two 6-2 point guards last year.

Isaiah Moss was Iowa’s top recruit just a couple of years ago, and the redshirt year should have helped him improve his game and get more accustomed to Iowa’s system. There is no guarantee that he’ll see significant playing time this season, although with his skill set and size, it’s hard to imagine Fran McCaffery not at least giving him a hard look at the beginning of the season.