By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Josh Ogundele’s return to the Iowa men’s basketball team was first reported on April 28 when he posted about it on Twitter, but now it’s official.
Iowa announced in a release that the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Ogundele would return for the 2022-23 season.
The announcement came approximately six weeks after Ogundele had entered the transfer portal.
“After exploring my options, I have decided to return to Iowa to continue my growth and development as a basketball player,” said Ogundele. ”I look forward for the opportunity to compete for another Big Ten championship with my teammates.”
Ogundele will certainly have an opportunity at Iowa next season.
A lot will depend on him.
Even if Fran McCaffery should add a frontline player from the transfer portal, which he is trying to do, Ogundele still will have an opportunity to contribute as a true post player.
It would help immensely if either he or redshirt freshman center Riley Mulvey would improve enough to make the rotation next season.
That would allow Filip Rebraca to play some at power forward, which is his best position, after having played most in the post for Iowa last season as the replacement for Luka Garza.
“We are excited to have Josh on our roster next season,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “Josh has been a good teammate, helping us win 48 games and win a Big Ten Tournament title. He has shown improvement each of the last two years, challenging some of the Big Ten’s top big men.”
In two seasons with the Hawkeyes, the London native saw limited action in 27 games. Ogundele totaled 29 points, 24 rebounds, five blocks, and four steals in 19 games as a sophomore.
The fact that Fran McCaffery is trying to land a center in the portal seems to suggest that he isn’t convinced that his two current centers are ready to contribute on a regular basis.
With Mulvey, it’s easy to see why there would be doubt with him having skipped his senior year of high school to play for Iowa last season.
This coming season would’be been Mulvey’s first season at Iowa if he hadn’t enrolled early.
Mulvey still is young in so many ways and trying to develop ahead of schedule.
Ogundele, on the other hand, will be entering his third season at Iowa, which means the time is now for him to seize the opportunity because it’s there just waiting for him to develop.
Ogundele’s first season at Iowa was hampered by illness and from a lack of conditioning caused by what Ogundele said was his inactivity during the Covid lockdown.
He was sort of given a pass due to the circumstances, but now Ogundele has two seasons under his belt, which makes him a veteran by today’s standards.
It’s time for Ogundele to get in the best shape of his life and take his game to the next level because his team needs him.
Ogundele showed flashes of his potential against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship game this past season.
The challenge now is to show that he deserves to play for longer stretches.
Fran McCaffery still believes in Ogundele or he wouldn’t have welcomed him back to the team.
Former All-America forward Keegan Murray is now headed to the NBA, while his twin brother, Kris Murray, might join him in the NBA.
The loss of Keegan Murray already has created a significant void, but to also lose Kris Murray would be a massive blow.
Ogundele has a chance to be a major contributor on a Big Ten team that has combined for 48 wins over the past two seasons.
He has a chance to show Fran McCaffery that he is ready and able to meet the challenge in his third year.
It’s now just a matter of doing it.