Why Hawkeye fans are going to love Brandon Hutton

Chad Leistikow

NORTH LIBERTY, Ia. – Iowa basketball fans are going to love getting to know Brandon Hutton.

The 6-foot-5 freshman from Chicago De La Salle High School is candid and confident. His team-first, gritty demeanor seems genuine. And in this summer’s Prime Time League, he’s flashed a combination of scoring ability and athleticism that indicate he’s ready to make an immediate impact for the 2015-16 Hawkeyes.

“I want to keep improving and keep dominating, the way I do,” Hutton said Thursday night after scoring 32 points with nine rebounds in a loss that eliminated his team from the PTL playoffs. “I’m going to bring that to the season, and hopefully coach Fran McCaffery will give me a shot, get me in, get me a little time.”

About a month ago, Hutton introduced himself to Iowa media by saying he wanted to someday become the best defender in the Big Ten Conference, and that he wanted to be a defensive stopper on this year’s team.

For now, the No. 1 defender on the Iowa roster — according to Hutton’s rankings — is senior guard Anthony Clemmons. Hutton, well, he’s already No. 2.

“I’ve really got to start talking more. That’s why I want to rank myself second,” Hutton said. “Because if I talk a little bit more on defense, that will make my defensive game a whole lot better.

“So,” he added with a big smile, “I rank second.”

When Hutton talks, you don’t doubt he can do whatever he says. There’s no questioning his desire. He admittedly comes to Iowa with a chip on his shoulder, saying, “I’ve had a lot of doubters that I’ve been proving wrong, year after year after year. I want to continue doing that.”

While adjusting to college life and taking summer classes, he’s found time to put up a lot of jump shots. He won’t leave the Hawkeye practice gym until he makes 300, sometimes 350, in a session.

Putting in extra work is essential for not only Hutton, but the five other newcomers in the recruiting Class of 2015. There are up to 14 guys that could be competing for precious minutes in McCaffery’s nine- or 10-man rotation.

While the four freshmen already on campus — Hutton, Andrew Fleming, Ahmad Wagner and Christian Williams — have become instant hangout buddies, they know they’re all fighting for the same thing.

“We are competing, but we’re not letting it get to us,” Hutton said. “We know somebody’s not going to have as much time as they want to.”

The status of a fifth freshman, Isaiah Moss of powerhouse Chicago Simeon High School, remains unsettled while he addresses academic matters. Through the University of Iowa, Moss is declining all interview requests until he arrives on campus.

Hutton said he’s spoken to Moss about once a week, and though they didn’t compete against each other in Chicago, he is familiar with the 6-5 swingman’s ability.

“He’s excited to come down here,” Hutton said. “He’s going to work hard, and that’s going to bring a lot more athleticism to the team as well. He’s a freak — a freak of nature, if you’ve actually seen him play. He’s got a nice little (jump shot), a mid-range game, he can put it on the floor.

“So again, looking back at the time, at the minutes, are we really going to have enough to spread around? We’ll know when that time comes.”