Iowa men’s basketball all-time roster: Hawkeye Legends
The University of Iowa has a decorated basketball tradition. Dating back to the 1902 season, the Hawkeyes have been gracing the hardwood.
Iowa is once again tracking to take part in March Madness. The Hawkeyes have made the NCAA Tournament 28 times in their history. On three occasions Iowa has advanced to the Final Four. In addition to those Final Four appearances, Iowa has also advanced to another Elite Eight and four more Sweet 16’s.
Under current head coach Fran McCaffery, the Hawkeyes have been a staple in the annual postseason extravaganza. Prior to the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season, Iowa has made six NCAA Tournament appearances under McCaffery.
The Hawkeyes have also routinely finished above the 20-win plateau during McCaffery’s reign. Iowa has finished with 20 or more wins eight times under McCaffery, including each of the past four seasons.
Along the way, there have been some incredible individual players both under McCaffery and before. Which players are the best of the best to ever don the black and gold?
Here’s the Iowa men’s basketball all-time roster from Hawkeyes Wire.
Tom Davis: Head coach (1986-99)
REGISTER PHOTO BY HARRY BAUMERT-IOWA CITY, IA.-SHOT 2/23/99
Iowa made a pair of Final Four appearances under head coach Bucky O’Connor during back-to-back seasons in 1955 and 1956. The Hawkeyes did so once under head coach Lute Olson in 1980, too.
It’s Tom Davis that’s the all-time head coach, though. He made one Elite Eight run in 1987 and a pair of other Sweet 16 trips in 1988 and 1999. That’s the most recent appearance in the Sweet 16 for Iowa.
That 1987 squad finished 30-5 and earned Tom Davis Associated Press Coach of the Year honors. Nine of his 13 Hawkeye teams went to the NCAA Tournament, Davis ranks third in all-time winning percentage in school history and is tops in career wins with Iowa (271).
Unlike Olson, he’s also synonymous with Iowa basketball. That has to be the case for a list like this.
B.J. Armstrong: Starting Guard (1986-89)
MPS-USA TODAY Sports
A three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, B.J. Armstrong was also a star in Iowa City. Armstrong ranks seventh in all-time points with 1,705 and sixth in assists with 517 and sixth in steals with 178.
Upon graduation, he actually topped the all-time assists list. Like another name on this list, Armstrong was a key cog on Iowa’s 1987 team that reached the Elite Eight and finished with the most wins (30) in a single season. He was selected 18th overall by Chicago in the 1989 NBA draft.
Ronnie Lester: Starting Guard (1977-80)
Ronnie Lester continues to capture Iowa basketball fans’ hearts âÂ and votes as best all-time Hawkeye #Hawkeyes https://t.co/ttjnUclVue pic.twitter.com/F5OkKgDdjT
— Land of 10 Iowa (@Landof10Iowa) April 4, 2017
Ronnie Lester was fabulous at Iowa. He is top 10 in all-time points with 1,675 and seventh in assists as well with 480. The No. 10 overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1980 NBA draft, Lester helped lead Iowa to the 1980 Final Four. He was the leading scorer in that bunch, averaging 14.8 points per game.
We're joined by Iowa basketball legend Ronnie Lester! LISTEN: https://t.co/OqXege76jH pic.twitter.com/PCjY3RN24e
— Murph & Andy Show (@Murph_Andy) August 30, 2017
Roy Marble: Starting Forward (1986-89)
(AP Photo/Gary Stewart, File)
One of the finest players in Hawkeye history, Roy Marble was the program’s all-time leading scorer until Luka Garza supplanted him during the 2020-21 men’s college basketball season.
Marble is second in all-time points with 2,116, second in made free throws with 516, and fourth in steals with 183. He led Iowa in scoring in 1986, 1987 and 1989 was the first Hawkeye to surpass 2,000 career points. He also had three separate 500-point seasons.
The Hawkeyes won 97 games during his tenure in Iowa City, including an Elite Eight run in 1987 and another Sweet 16 trip in 1988.
Keegan Murray: Starting Forward (2021-22)
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Call it recency bias, but Keegan Murray is an all-time Iowa Hawkeye. His 2021-22 season was so singularly impressive that he finds his way onto the list of starters. Murray scored the most points in a single season in Iowa history with 822 as he averaged 23.5 points per game. He also averaged 8.7 rebounds per game, blocked 1.9 shots per night and shot 39.8% from 3-point range.
During the 2021-22 season, Murray had five 30-point games as he fought for national Player of the Year honors. The Cedar Rapids product was recognized as the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year and as a consensus first-team All-American. He also became the Hawkeyes’ first first-round NBA draft selection since Ricky Davis in 1998.
Sure, it’s about accomplishments at Iowa, but part of this is what he’s already done with the Sacramento Kings, too. The 6-foot-8 forward has already tracked down a pair of Rookie of the Month Awards with Sacramento and took part in the Rising Stars game.
No “best” five in Iowa history lacks Keegan Murray.
Luka Garza: Starting Center (2018-21)
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Luka Garza was magical in Iowa City. He left the Hawkeyes as the program’s all-time scoring leader, pouring in 2,306 points during his time at Iowa. Garza was a two-time unanimous consensus first-team All-American, earned the Big Ten Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons and captured the Naismith Trophy in 2021.
Garza averaged 23.9 and 24.1 points in his final two years with the Hawkeyes. He also averaged 9.8 and 8.7 rebounds in those two seasons, respectively. The 6-foot-11 center shot 44% from 3-point distance in 2021. He ranks second in all-time rebounds at Iowa with 931 during his career as well.
Garza had 13 career 30-point games and a pair of 40-point games during his stint in Iowa City.
Lute Olson: Reserve head coach
Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Fran McCaffery might overtake both Tom Davis and Lute Olson before his Iowa stint is all said and done. He’s already well out in front of Lute Olson in terms of career wins at Iowa for No. 2 all-time. Next season he will surpass Tom Davis and sit all alone atop the program’s wins list.
The only missing link is NCAA Tournament success. McCaffery needs to end Iowa’s Sweet 16 drought and really needs a deep tournament run to solidify himself as the program’s best.
In the meantime, the reserve head coach is Lute Olson. Olson directed Iowa to its third all-time and most recent Final Four appearance in 1980. Of course, he was also a college basketball coaching legend at Arizona where he won the 1997 national championship and made three other Final Four appearances with the Wildcats in 1988, 1994 and 2001.
Fred Brown: Reserve Guard (1970-71)
Seattle SuperSonics guard Fred Brown, right, is on the move as he drives against a New York Nets defense at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Feb. 18, 1977. AP Photo/Richard Drew
Similar to Keegan Murray, Fred Brown was so sensational in his limited stint at Iowa that he makes the cut. Even though he was on a bad Iowa team, during the 1971 season Brown averaged 27.6 points per game. That figure ranks second all-time in Iowa history behind only John Johnson’s 27.9 points per game in 1970.
He was drafted sixth overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the 1971 NBA draft. He became a fan favorite and was called “Downtown Freddie Brown” for his prowess in making long-range shots.
Jordan Bohannon: Reserve Guard (2017-22)
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Bohannon was an instrumental figure for a number of years for the Hawkeyes. Thanks to an extra COVID year, the 6-foot guard was able to add to his statistical legacy.
He is one of the tops in a number of key categories. Of course, Bohannon is the career record holder in career 3-pointers made. He also tops the list in career assists with 704 and ranks third in points with 2,033. Bohannon played 39 more games during his career than the next-closest Hawkeye in Aaron White.
Murray Wier: Reserve Guard (1945-48)
Murray Wier passes away #IowaMBB https://t.co/BkNKNmmjq6 pic.twitter.com/y4w1xXgfuD
— Hawkeyes BB Report (@iowa_bb_fanly) April 6, 2016
A four-year starter during the 1945-48 seasons, Murray Wier became the first officially recognized Division I NCAA scoring leader after averaging 21.0 points per game in 1948. Wier led Iowa to a 15-4 overall finish and a second-place finish in the Big Ten his senior year.
Bill Logan: Reserve Center (1953-56)
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The back-to-back Final Four teams had to get honored in some capacity here. With that in mind, why not feature one of the best players from the 1955 and 1956 teams that took Iowa to its first and second Final Four appearances? Bill Logan led the team in scoring in both 1955 and 1956 with averages of 15.3 and 17.7 points per game, respectively. Forward Carl Cain would merit some consideration as well.
Chris Street: Reserve Forward (1990-93)
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK
Chris Street was a star at Iowa and wore No. 40. As the recent Big Ten Network documentary spotlighted, he was the best player on the floor in Iowa’s 1993 loss at Duke versus a Blue Devils team that featured all sorts of NBA talent.
Sadly, his story at Iowa came to a tragic conclusion. Current Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery has done a terrific job of highlighting what Street meant to Iowa basketball and helping to keep his legacy alive.
The statistical numbers for Street speak for themselves, and he would have had an NBA career if things had played out how they should have. But really, more than ever because of his incredible talent, Street is on this list because you simply can’t tell the story of Iowa basketball without discussing what he means to it.
The No. 40 jersey of Chris Street is seen during an NCAA Big Ten Conference men’s basketball game between Iowa and Northwestern, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. USA TODAY Sports
Chuck Darling: Reserve Center (1949-52)
The Iowa Basketball Family mourns the passing of All-American and Olympian, Chuck Darling 🙏
"Our deepest condolences go out to the Darling family. Chuck was a trailblazer for University of Iowa student-athletes." – Head Coach Fran McCaffery
🔗: https://t.co/JpCs0HVMkh pic.twitter.com/Wa8ajyPMp4
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) May 1, 2021
Chuck Darling was a first-team All-America selection and a two-time all-conference selection as well. He was Iowa’s leading scorer in consecutive seasons in 1951 (16.3 points per game) and 1952 (25.5 points per game). His 25.5 points per game are the third-highest single-season average in Iowa history and led the Big Ten that season.
Darling also averaged 17.6 rebounds per game as a junior, which is a season average that is still tops in Hawkeye history. Darling had 30 rebounds in a game against Wisconsin on March 3, 1952. He also finished his career with four 30-point scoring efforts.
Contact/Follow us @HawkeyesWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Iowa news, notes, and opinions.
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshOnREF