Payton Sandfort, Iowa Hawkeyes

Fran McCaffery has brought consistency to the Iowa Hawkeyes, however this season will be a tale of who will be the emerging star.


As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.

For the 14th year now the Iowa Hawkeyes are led by Fran McCaffery who has brought stability, averaging 20 wins per year to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

In recent years, Iowa has had a revolving door of All-Big Ten players with Luka Garza, Keegan Murray, and Kris Murray, however there doesn’t seem to be a guaranteed next man up for the Hawkeyes. With this being Iowa’s first time in a while without a big who’s dominated the Big Ten, they will rely on veterans stepping up and new blood taking steps forward.

Last year Iowa went 19-14 taking a step back from 2021’s 26-10 record. However, heading into this year, the team returns three players who played 20 or more minutes a game as well as adding a star from the Missouri Valley Conference in Ben Krikke.

The Hawkeyes lost three big names in Kris Murray, Filip Rebraca, and Connor McCaffery however they reloaded with the 31st-best class according to 247Sports Composite. In that class, the Hawkeyes added Pryce Sandfort a combo guard ranked 99th nationally who is the brother of Payton Sandfort, an expected starter this season, Brock Harding a point guard ranked 150th nationally, Owen Freeman a power forward ranked 159th nationally, and Ladji Dembele a power forward ranked 186th.

Alongside the high school recruits, Iowa added two transfers who will have a major impact. Even Brauns comes from Belmont where he was a key piece. All MVC first-team power forward Ben Krikke should wind up in a starting role.

McCaffery has done a good job adjusting to the Big Ten and using bigs as more than just back to the basket and encouraging them to shoot making awkward switches for some teams.

Head coach: Fran McCaffery (28th season, 14th at Iowa)

2022-23 record: 19-14 (11-9)

2023 postseason finish: Lost in the first round to Auburn

Notable departures: Kris Murray (Pro), Filip Rebraca (Graduated), Connor McCaffery (Graduated) Ahron Ulis (Transferred to Nebraska)

Notable non-conference games: at Creighton (Nov. 14), Rady’s Children’s Invitational (Nov. 23-24), at Iowa State (Dec. 7)

Projected Rotation

PG: Tony Perkins (6-4, 205, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 12.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.4 SPG

SG: Dasonte Bowen (6-2, 174, So.)

2022-23 stats: 3.1 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.9 APG, 9.3 MPG

SF: Payton Sandfort (6-7, 215, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.5 APG

PF: Patrick McCaffery (6-9, 210, Sr)

2022-23 stats: 9.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 APG

C: Ben Krikke (6-9, 235, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 19.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 55.2 FG% (Valparaiso)

6: Josh Dix (6-5, 192, So)

2022-23 stats: 2.0 PPG, 0.9 APG, 0.9 RPG

7: Even Brauns (6-9, 240, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 7.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.2 APG (Belmont)

8: Pryce Sandfort (6-7, 190, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 99 rated player

9: Riley Mulvey (6-11, 245 Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 0.9 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0.2 APG, 4.9 MPG, 12 games played

10: Brock Harding (6-0, 155, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 150 rated player

11: Owen Freeman (6-10, 220, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 159 rated player

12: Ladji Dembele (6-8, 230, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 186 rated player

Iowa Hawkeyes MVP: Tony Perkins

As the only returning starter from last season, Tony Perkins was the staple of the Iowa Hawkeyes backcourt averaging 12.3 PPG and being a lockdown defender at the top of the key. Each year he’s been at Iowa there has been a significant improvement over the last and without a true star player, the senior guard will need to take control on the offensive side more than he’s had to do before.

Perkins being the only returning starter will have a mark on his back especially with him having a new partner in the backcourt who either barely played or is a freshman. He shot 44/33.3/76.3 splits last year and Iowa looks to take even more looks outside this season which he will be the main factor of.

Iowa Hawkeyes make-or-break player: Payton Sandfort

Payton Sandfort comes off his sophomore season averaging nearly double the minutes and points from his freshman season as he will now be a starter in the rotation for McCaffery. Sandfort will likely be getting nearly 30 minutes and is a key scorer on the wing for Iowa. Last year Sandfort shot 36.6% from deep and he will be expected to up that this season as he may take on the role of the number one scorer for the Hawkeyes to ensure they are competitive in the Big Ten.

Sandfort will get another increase in minutes and extra pressure as this is the season for his potential breakout as the next star under McCaffery. After a couple of years of backing up the Murray and McCaffery brothers, it’s finally his time to shine.

Key analytic: 3P%

Last season Iowa shot 34.1% from three-point range as a team which was good enough for 172nd in the nation, for a little less than average. In order for Iowa to be able to keep themselves in games they’ll have to shoot more efficiently from deep.

This is where having a new 35+ minutes going into the backcourt is going to help out. If Bowen, Dix, Pryce Sandfort, and Harding are going to all get significant minutes they’re going to have to shoot consistently with Iowa’s bigs being outsized and potentially outmatched by the opposing teams in the Big Ten.

The Iowa Hawkeyes will not have to rely on their three-point shooting to keep them in games if their defense keeps them in it, but an off night on defense if shots aren’t falling will be dangerous for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa Hawkeyes 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 9th in the Big Ten

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16 Exit

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