Nov. 10, 2015
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- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, July 29, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2015-16 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Adam Woodbury has taken steps forward in his first three seasons with the University of Iowa men’s basketball program. As a senior, Woodbury wants to follow it up with a leap.
The 7-foot-1 center has been a starter for the Hawkeyes since arriving on the UI campus in 2012. Woodbury has started 105 of 106 games and his numbers have gradually risen. His only non-start came on Gabriel Olaseni’s senior day last season.
Woodbury averaged 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds en route to Iowa’s Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors in 2012-13. As a sophomore, he averaged 5.7 points with a 51.5 field goal percentage, and last season, Woodbury had career bests, averaging 6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game.
“I have learned so much, not only about myself, but my game,” said Woodbury of his first three seasons. “It has been a great learning process. Every year my game has taken a step, and I think (my senior year) will be the biggest step of my career.”
“I want to go out on top and leave a lasting legacy on this program. When we got here (the program) was on its rise and our class has been one of the key catalysts. (This experience) has gone by fast. I have had a great journey and couldn’t ask for more. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my game and am hoping for my final year to be as special as my first three.”
UI senior Adam Woodbury
Woodbury has averaged 17.9 minutes per game during his first three seasons. UI head coach Fran McCaffery is anticipating a jump to 30-35 minutes per game in 2015-16.
“He’s going to play a lot more,” said McCaffery. “You’ll see his numbers improve without question. He’s a guy that could lead the Big Ten in rebounding. He could be a 10-12 rebound per game guy, and we have the ability to run our offense through him because he’s a willing passer.
“You’ll see a guy who plays differently than he did last year, knowing he’s going to be out there more often.”
Playing 30 minutes would be monumental for Woodbury. The only time in his career he hit the 30-minute mark was in the 2014 NCAA Tournament against Tennessee — a game that went overtime. Woodbury scored a career-high 16 points, connecting on 8-of-11 field goals, and grabbed eight rebounds.
Among his 106 career games, Woodbury has played 25 or more minutes 10 times and 28 or more minutes seven times. He averages 11.3 points and six rebounds, while shooting 57.1 percent (32-of-56) from the field when playing at least 28 minutes.
“With more minutes there are more opportunities,” he said. “Anytime a coach has that much confidence in you to play 30-35 minutes, that gives the player the utmost confidence. I am excited about my expanded role, any player would be.”
Woodbury began playing basketball as a 4-5 year old, following his brother, Aaron, who is older by 17 months, to the gym. Older brother, who now stands at 6-foot-6, beat up on younger brother until early in Woodbury’s high school career.
“I was 14 or 15 when I out-grew him, and I continued to go,” said Woodbury. “(Aaron) took it to me a lot. He beat me up and beat me in everything. That is what made me who I am today, always getting knocked down, but always having to pick myself up.
“He taught me a lot, and I am grateful for it.”
Woodbury played basketball and baseball as a high school freshman before turning his focus solely to the hardwood. His rise in height corresponded with a rise in stature. He was tabbed as a top-50 recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com, and Scout.com. Woodbury selected Iowa over North Carolina.
“I looked at everybody and gave everybody an equal chance,” said Woodbury. “It came down to Iowa out-weighing everybody else. I felt a good connection when I was on my (official recruiting) visit and created good connections with coach McCaffery and all of the other assistants.
“It felt like home, the right place to be, and the right place for my family to come see me play.”
Woodbury’s arrival corresponded with the resurgence of Iowa basketball. The Hawkeyes won 25 games and advanced to the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament as a freshman. Iowa won 20 and 22 games in years two and three, making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.
Iowa’s NCAA Tournament victory over Davidson — an 83-52 drubbing — goes down as Woodbury’s top memory as a Hawkeye to date.
“We set the record for the largest margin of victory in a No. 7 versus No. 10 game, and we posted the program’s first NCAA win in 14 years,” said Woodbury. “It is special to get back to the tournament and win a game. This year we’re going to try to expand on that and move further.”
Woodbury is one of four team captains along with Mike Gesell, Jarrod Uthoff, and Anthony Clemmons. The quartet has banded together to provide a unified voice in a locker room littered with 10 newcomers.
“The first three years we’ve had great senior leadership with great guys that led our team to a lot of wins before I got here,” said Woodbury. “My role has expanded and I have tried to relish that role and the other three seniors have as well. We’ve grouped together to find the things we do well and don’t do well to try to have one voice in the locker room.”
Woodbury’s goals for the Hawkeyes are clear. He wants to win early and often.
“I want to go out on top and leave a lasting legacy on this program,” he said. “When we got here (the program) was on its rise and our class has been one of the key catalysts.
“(This experience) has gone by fast. I have had a great journey and couldn’t ask for more. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my game and am hoping for my final year to be as special as my first three.”