Back in the spring, Riley Mulvey had joked about it.
With a spot or two opening up on the Iowa men’s basketball team that former Siena head coach Fran McCaffery leads, maybe he could join the program a year early.
Then, one day, Mulvey got a phone call asking if he’d be interested in doing just that.
“I didn’t know it was actually fully possible,” said Mulvey, laughing, during a recent interview with The Daily Gazette.
It was, and Mulvey — a Rotterdam resident — didn’t have to spend much time thinking about his decision to reclassify. While he’d only recently finished up his junior year at Connecticut’s St. Thomas More School, the 6-foot-11 Mulvey was able to pick up the extra course or two he needed to complete his high school degree so he could join the Hawkeyes in time for their summer workouts that started in early June.
“Playing-wise, when I first got here, everything was super-fast during 5 on 5,” Mulvey said. “But, slowly, I’ve gotten used to it. . . . The first day, it was super-fast, everyone was stronger and more physical. Then, the next day, it felt more normal already. I adapted.”
Mulvey joined an Iowa team that lost center Luka Garza, the consensus national player of the year, and has minutes to offer at the 5 position. This summer, Mulvey has been working on his game and spending ample time in the weight room. The 18-year-old arrived at Iowa weighing 230 pounds, and wants to add weight to his frame without limiting his mobility.
“Right now, my goal is to be 245-ish,” said Mulvey, who was home-schooled and attended Loudonville Christian, Mekeel Christian Academy and Albany Academy schools before spending a year at St. Thomas More School. “I’m now at 235 pounds, so I’m slowly making my way up there.”
Mulvey was still attending Albany Academy when he received his scholarship offer to play for McCaffery. The former Albany City Rocks AAU player said he’s worked a lot this summer with Iowa assistant coach Billy Taylor, but has enjoyed getting to know McCaffery better.
“Everything is a lesson,” Mulvey said. “You get better each time he’s in the gym with you.”
This summer, Mulvey said his parents — Martin and Janet — are staying in an apartment near Iowa’s campus, which has helped make the teenager’s early shift to college a bit easier.
Mulvey said he’ll stay at Iowa through the end of July before heading back to the Capital Region for a couple weeks prior to the start of the fall semester. He said he’s thrilled both with the decision to attend Iowa, and to start up his college career a year earlier than expected.
“I’m just loving playing basketball,” Mulvey said, “and everybody has been so nice out here to me.”