Looking at the possible starting lineup for the Iowa basketball team

The Hawkeyes have some new pieces, and a key leader is returning. How does the starting five shake up early in the offseason?
Minnesota v Iowa
Minnesota v Iowa / Grace Smith/GettyImages

The Iowa Hawkeyes couldn't ask for better news on Wednesday night when Payton Sandfort announced he'd be returning to the program after withdrawing from the 2024 NBA Draft.

With Sandfort returning to the Hawkeyes' starting lineup, we have a much clearer look at what the starting five looks like in the 2024-25 season.

Of course, the losses to the starting lineup make way for the additions. Tony Perkins was the starting point guard for the Hawkeyes while Ben Krikke was a strong frontcourt piece. Krikke graduated while Perkins transferred to Missouri.

Perkins's replacement will likely be incoming Morehead State transfer Drew Thelwell. Over the past two seasons, Thelwell has started 68 games and averaged 10.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

Joining Thelwell in the backcourt will be the returning Josh Dix. An honorable mention All-Big Ten, Dix shot 55% from the floor and 42% from three while averaging 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Dix was also strong defensively with 19 steals.

Dix needs a strong year for the Hawkeyes after a strong finish to the 2023-24 season, and his running mates should help him achieve it.

Sandfort, of course, takes the role at the three as one of the better wing players in the conference. He'll be the pulse of the team coming off his monster junior season where he averaged 16.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

The frontcourt sees two promising sophomores in the starting lineup. The new face figures to be Manhattan transfer Seydou Traore. Traore is more of a wing than a true big, but he averaged 8.2 rebounds to go along with his 11.8 points per game. He may need some time to get acclimated to Big Ten competition, but he's certainly an intriguing component of the roster.

Iowa's top rebounder from a year ago, Owen Freeman, rounds things out at the 5. Freeman will need to get stronger on the glass as 6.6 rebounds per game won't be enough as a full-time starter. Nonetheless, Freeman showed flashes while sharing time with Krikke and Ladji Dembele last year.

Speaking of Dembele, he, Brock Harding and Pryce Sandfort figure to be the primary rotational pieces. Harding was particularly exciting down the stretch and can spark momentum off the bench.

After missing the NCAA Tournament in heartbreaking fashion last year, Iowa does look a tad stronger on paper. The Transfer Portal additions look like big wins, and Sandfort showed he can be a difference-maker. Knowing exactly what he needs to improve after going through the NBA Draft process is also a quiet positive.

The Hawkeyes aren't exactly in a position to run away with the Big Ten, but they showed late they can stand up to the top dogs and be problematic. Continuing to grow from that foundation is key to the success of the 2024-25 squad.

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