IOWA CITY, Ia. - Filip Rebraca is not Luka Garza. And don’t expect him to be.
“He’s completely different,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said of Rebraca, who is expected to replace Garza in the post for the Hawkeye men’s basketball team in 2021-22. Garza’s outstanding Iowa career ended with National Player of the Year honors last season.
“He was as dominant a low-post scorer as our game has seen in 25 years,” McCaffery said.
Rebraca, a 1,000-point scorer at North Dakota who scored in double figures in 33 of his last 34 games there, averaged 16.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and shot 50.6 percent from the field last season. He did most of his damage inside the 3-point line. He shot 36.6 from distance (15 makes).
“He’s a guy who can go inside and out,” McCaffery said of the 6-9 Rebraca. “He shot 36 percent from three, and I think he’ll shoot better than that. He can go off the dribble. And he can pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll. We’ll also post him up and take advantage of that. But I want him to be a versatile guy. That’s what he is. Sort of a modern-day front-court player.”
Rebraca, who is from Sombor, Serbia, is one of four new players joining the Iowa program next season. Payton Sandfort, a 6-7 guard, helped Waukee win the state 4A title in March. He signed with Iowa in November.
Riley Mulvey, a 6-11 center from Rotterdam, N.Y., was originally a member of the Class of 2022 but decided to reclassify after committing to the Hawkeyes. He signed this spring.
Luc Laketa, who played at Hanover-Horton High School in Michigan and then the Winchendon School, will join the team as a walk-on.
Sandfort averaged 16 points and seven rebounds as a senior at Waukee, and made the all-tournament team at state. He shot 56 percent from the field for the season, 45 percent from three and 96 percent from the free-throw line.
“He’s really gifted as a guard,” McCaffery said. “He can bring it down, play on the wing, he can make shots and play off the dribble. And he’s a terrific passer.”
McCaffery sees some similarities between Sandfort and Hawkeye Joe Wieskamp, who has entered the 2021 NBA Draft and has until July 7 to stay or return to college for his senior season.
“Joe is special,” McCaffery said. “He’s one of the best shooters in college basketball. But he’s also an incredibly tough kid who has continued to improve the diversity of his game. I was really impressed with Joe’s development in that area, and he really worked on it. I think from that standpoint, Payton could do a lot of the same things.”
McCaffery said the fact that Sandfort is nearly 6-8 gives the coach an opportunity to post him up as well and using him as a scoring threat on the perimeter.
Mulvey transfered from Albany Academy to St. Thomas More in Connecticut last season because of COVID-19. The 230-pounder averaged 14.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.9 blocks as a junior.
“Riley has got a chance to be special,” McCaffery said. “He’s big and long. The thing I like about him is he affects the game at both ends. He’s really a good defender on ball screens, altering shots and blocking shots and understanding angles.”
Mulvey can also run the floor, which makes him a perfect fit for the Iowa system. “He’s an athlete,” McCaffery said. “He can score in the post and facing the basket. He’s a talented and willing passer, so you can run your offense through him. He’s going to be really good. It’s good to be getting him out here this year. He’s going to be good this year. But it’s really going to help him the following year.”
Laketa’s father, Parker, and McCaffery were on the Notre Dame coaching staff together for seven seasons. A 6-5 wing, Luc averaged 15 points and 5.3 rebounds as a senior at Hanover-Horton.
Hoping to catch the eye of college recruiters, he reclassified to 2021 and enrolled at Winchendon in Massachusetts. But the pandemic also altered that season. Fall and winter sports seasons were delayed.
“Luc’s going to be a terrific addition,” McCaffery said. “We needed a front-court guy with Michael Baer leaving (for Siena). But Luc’s also versatile. He can shoot it from the outside. He’s a character kid, tough and smart. He’ll be a terrific player for us.