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NCAA Basketball Iowa Hawkeyes

5 Most Important Players for Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball

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Iowa Hawkeyes: 5 Most Important Players for the 2013-2014 Season

Iowa
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Fran McCaffery has the Iowa Hawkeyes turned around and ready to take the next step this season. Iowa is one of the deepest teams in college basketball and I think they will compete for a Big Ten title this season.

Last year, Iowa went 20-11 through the regular season, including a 9-9 record in the Big Ten, which was far and away the toughest conference in the nation. Iowa's non-conference schedule was very weak and probably cost them a shot at an NCAA tournament bid. McCaffery did not make that mistake again this season as the Hawkeyes' out-of-conference schedule will be daunting.

The Hawkeyes had many close losses against the top teams in the Big Ten, including a four-point loss in a game that they lead most of the way to eventual Sweet Sixteen team Indiana, and two three-point losses which they led by double-digits at one point to another Sweet Sixteen team in Michigan State. If Iowa had won one of those three games, they would have had a legitimate chance to make the tournament.

Iowa did make a great run through the NIT tournament. In less than a two-week span, McCaffery and the Hawkeyes knocked off Indiana State, Stony Brook, Virginia and Maryland before losing to Baylor in the NIT championship game. It was a disappointment for the Hawkeyes that they did not take home the title, but I think that run through the tournament will help them this season as they look to make some noise on the national level.

The 2013-14 Iowa team returns all starters from last season. The only Hawkeye not returning is guard Eric May, who was good for the Hawkeyes off the bench last season. With Jarrod Uthoff, a transfer from Wisconsin, and a talented freshman added to the mix this season, I think that Iowa will be just fine with out May.

This team can legitimately go 11 deep, which is good for McCaffery's fast paced style of play. I think the Hawkeyes will be able to wear down their opponents that can not substitute all the time like they can.

The Big Ten will once again be incredibly tough this season, but I think Iowa is a legit contender for the title. They are impressively deep and talented, but they must get contribution from certain players if they expect to compete with the top teams in the league. Here are the five most important players for the Hawkeyes this season.

Daniel is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Peter Jok

Jok
Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

Before going down with two very serious knee injuries early in his high school career, Peter Jok was one of the top recruits in his class. The Hawkeyes were able to land Jok because of the injuries, but as he recovers from the knee injuries, the talent that made him so great just might still be there.

Jok is an incredible outside shooter, which is probably the one thing that the Hawkeyes need the most this season. Iowa was 11th in the Big Ten last season shooting 30 percent from behind the arc. Their best outside shooter was supposed to be guard Josh Oglesby, but he shot 27 percent on 156 attempts from behind the arc last season.

Jok has the ability to be that outside shooter that the Hawkeyes desperately need. He was Mr. Basketball for the state of Iowa last season and his outside shooting was a huge reason why. Jok has a sweet, consistent outside shot and the Hawkeyes need that to translate to the games. If Jok can knock down some outside shots for Iowa, maybe that will light a fire under Oglesby to perform, as well. Regardless, the Hawkeyes need a legitimate threat as an outside shooter this season.

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4. Adam Woodbury

Woodbury
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Averaging 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last year, Adam Woodbury had a solid, yet unspectacular freshman season. The 7-foot-1 center will be a huge key to the success for the Hawkeyes this season.

Woodbury's height makes him a force on the defensive side of the court. He blocked 0.8 shots per game last season, which is pretty good considering he only played 16.5 minutes per game. Woodbury is a skilled big man who can score around the hoop, defend the basket and rebound well. He is also a good passer for a guy his size. The Hawkeyes will need a big effort from Woodbury on both ends of the court this season if they expect to contend for a Big Ten championship.

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3. Mike Gesell

Gesell
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Guard Mike Gesell had solid numbers across the stat sheet in his freshman season last year. He averaged 8.7 points, 2.6 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.

Gesell started at point guard for a majority of the season, but Iowa seemed to be at their best when Devyn Marble was running the point and Gesell was coming off screens.

I believe that Gesell will improve on his .317 percentage on shots from three-point range from last year. He has a nice shooting stroke and appears to be a good catch-and-shoot shooter. I think Gesell will benefit from Marble moving to the point full time, taking the presser off of him to be a distributor. That being said, he will still probably need to fill the point guard role when Marble is on the bench, only making him even more valuable.

The Hawkeyes simply must shoot better from downtown this season. Expected improvement from Gesell in year two should help them in that department.

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2. Aaron White

White
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron White is an extremely versatile forward who will need to take his game to the next level this season. Last year, his sophomore season at Iowa, White averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

He is a athletic player that stands 6-foot-9 and weighs 220 pounds. White's size and athleticism allows him to play in the post and on the wing for the Hawkeyes. White is a good defender and solid rebounder, but he impresses the most in fast-break offensive chances. White does an incredible job of running the floor and is an excellent finisher around the rim. McCaffery loves to push the tempo and that plays beautifully into White's skill-set.

White has proved that he can go up and slam down alley-oops on the fast break, but he must improve his half-court game this season. White has been a decent mid-range shooter, but if he wants to take his game to the next level, he must improve his jump shot. If he can add that to his arsenal, the sky is the limit for both White and the Hawkeyes.

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1. Roy Devyn Marble

Marble
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawkeyes will go as far as Roy Devyn Marble will take them this season. Last year, his Junior season with the Hawkeyes, Marble led the team in scoring with 15 points per game, assists with three per game and was fourth on the team with four rebounds per game.

Marble appears to be a better player with the ball in his hands. Last season, Iowa tried to have him play the wing. He was fine, but the offense flowed much better with him leading the way at point guard.

McCaffery has already said that Marble will play the point this season and I think that will be huge for this team. This Iowa team is extremely deep, but they need an All-Big Ten kind of performance out of Marble this season. Last year, the Hawkeyes lost a lot of close games. They need somebody to step up and hit big shots at the end of games if they want to win those this year; simply put, Marble is the guy.