IOWA CITY, Iowa - Riley Mulvey is new at Iowa, and he’s enjoying every minute of it.
Well, maybe not every minute, and we’ll get to that shortly.
Mulvey is a freshman center for the Hawkeyes, but even that designation hides his youth.
Mulvey is here early, having reclassified to skip his senior year and join the Iowa frontcourt this season.
The adjustment has had its moments.
“First day,” Mulvey said, “First day I was here,” and here’s the story of how Mulvey, who is listed at 6-foot-11 and 230 pounds, went against center Josh
Ogundele during a workout. Ogundele, a sophomore, is listed at 6-11 and 245 pounds but also has gone through a year of Iowa’s strength and conditioning program.
“Josh Ogundele hit me,” Mulvey said, “and I went backwards. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It was definitely a ‘Hi, we’re in the Big Ten now.’”
These are all learning moments for a player who says he can help the Hawkeyes right away.
It’s a frontcourt in transition for the Hawkeyes after the departure of consensus national player of the year Luka Garza and backup center Jack Nunge.
Those openings made Mulvey consider giving up his final year of high school.
“My decision to come to Iowa was pretty easy to make,” Mulvey said. “The decision on top of that to come early was definitely the hardest part for me.”
It’s a decision that Mulvey said is already paying off.
“I feel like I’m a better player than I would have been had I not come here early,” he said.
Mulvey said playing at St. Thomas More School, a prep school in Connecticut, was good preparation to play college basketball. The school plays in a conference that uses NCAA rules, and Mulvey said physical play is something he has already faced.
“I think the biggest adjustment was the speed of the game, because the physicality isn’t that much different,” Mulvey said. “The speed of the game is definitely different. Keeping up with that speed, while playing with that physicality, is the biggest adjustment.”
Mulvey said he’s added “5-10 pounds of muscle, lost 5-10 pounds of fat.”
“I’ve definitely gotten stronger since I’ve been here,” he said.
There is no pressure for Mulvey to play significant minutes early in his career. Iowa also added Filip Rebraca, a transfer from North Dakota, to play inside, so there’s added experience.
Asked to describe his game, Mulvey said he is “definitely a rim protector who tries to run the floor the best he can.”
“I think being how I am on defense, I think I will help very well on the defensive end,” Mulvey said.
If anything, Mulvey is enjoying his summer experience. The smile that never went away when he answered questions during Thursday’s media availability showed that.
“It’s so fun to play against people who are really good here,” he said. “For the level of competition, it’s exactly what I expected. It’s super high, it’s really fun to be here and play against everyone. Super strong, super fast, everything is very fun.”