Liam Robbins picking Vanderbilt not a big surprise
7-foot center expected to be joined by his uncle at Vanderbilt
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – At the risk of being called Captain Hindsight, it just never felt like Liam Robbins would pick Iowa for what likely would be his final stop in college.
And while it’s true that Iowa made a lot sense with it close to his hometown of Davenport, and with Iowa having to replace Luka Garza at center, it still didn’t feel right, especially after reports surfaced that Robbins’ uncle, Ed Conroy, was likely to be hired as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt.
That seems more certain to happen now that Robbins announced on Instagram that he will transfer to Vanderbilt after playing this past season at Minnesota, where his uncle was an assistant coach under former Gopher head coach Richard Pitino.
There were rumors that the 7-foot Robbins, who played his first two seasons at Drake, would pick Iowa for both personal and basketball reasons.
But rumors aren’t facts. Rumors often are based on biased speculation and hope.
My doubt that Robbins would pick Iowa grew even stronger when 6-11 Iowa recruit Riley Mulvey reclassified to the 2021 class in order to start college a year sooner.
So where does Fran McCaffery go from here?
That’s hard to say because Iowa hasn’t been mentioned by many of the more than 1,000 players that are currently in the transfer portal.
Iowa is in the running for 6-9 North Dakota transfer Filip Rebraca, who had a virtual interview with Fran McCaffery last week and spoke highly of their conversation.
Rebraca also told Tyler Devine from Hawk Fanatic.com that Mulvey’s decision to reclassify would not affect his decision.
The void left by Garza could work for or against Iowa in the transfer portal.
Playing time is definitely one thing that Iowa could offer with 6-11 forward Jack Nunge also having transferred to Xavier.
But Fran McCaffery is trying to replace the most decorated player in program history in Garza, and that could be intimidating to some post players.
Iowa returns 6-11 freshman Josh Ogundele, but he’s sort of mystery at this point after having played sparingly this past season, while Mulvey is also hard to evaluate as a high school recruit.
Maybe at this point Fran McCaffery would take the best player available in the transfer portal regardless of the position.
A strong case could be made for Iowa also needing help in the backcourt.
However, it’s hard to know for sure at this point how much help with the status of both Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp still uncertain.
Bohannon is considering returning for a sixth season, and he said he would return if legislation is passed that would allow college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness.
Wieskamp is reportedly considering testing the NBA draft process for the second time in three years, and there is speculation he won’t return for his senior season.
So right now, the Iowa roster is influx, and that could make it more difficult to attract interest from guards in the portal.
And should Bohannon choose to return to Iowa for a sixth season, his presence could convince some of Iowa’s other guards to enter the portal.
The situation is fluid, to say the least.
But you can at least scratch Liam Robbins off Iowa’s wish list.