It's National Signing Day, which means that the much-hyped Iowa basketball recruiting class we've been talking about for a few months can finally become official. There aren't expected to be any surprise additions to the class (nor any surprise defections; all five guys sound solid to Iowa) and while Iowa has one remaining scholarship and may use it later this year, for now this appears to be the full class. So how good is this class? It was ranked as high as 11th by ESPN at one point (it's currently 19th) and plenty of other recruiting services have praised McCaffery's efforts in assembling this class:
Van Coleman, a national recruiting analyst and publisher of Hot100Hoops.com, ranks Iowa’s class currently at No. 11 nationally. Several other organizationss have Iowa ranked anywhere from seventh through 19th, which is the highest in several years, Coleman said.
Van Coleman is a frequent shill for Iowa, but that doesn't mean he's wrong, particularly since he's in lock-step with several other recruiting analysts on this matter. This is a very good class for Iowa, one that should provide them with the foundation to again challenge for NCAA Tournament berths.
(Note: clicking on the recruit's name will take you to prior BHGP coverage of their recruitment.)
THE STAR OF THE SHOW
Adam Woodbury C (6-11; 225; Sioux City, IA | 4* ESPN | 4* Rivals | 4* Scout | #41 ESPNU 100)
The biggest win of Fran McCaffery's nascent Iowa career wasn't anything that happened on the floor at Carver-Hawkeye last year (although the win over Purdue was awfully sweet); it was his successful courtship of Adam Woodbudy. It's not just the fact that Woodbury appears to be a highly skilled player at a position of great need (Iowa hasn't had a good center since, um....), although he appears to be just that (see: his unanimous 4* rankings, his MVP award at the NBA Top 100 camp this past summer, the glowing praise from basically every recruitnik). It's the fact that he represents Iowa's first successful recruitment of a blue-chip in-state player in ages. Woodbury was a player that had offers from a who's who list of college basketball elites: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Stanford, and oh yeah, North Carolina.
That would be the North Carolina coached by Roy Williams, the man who has plucked Iowa's best players out of its border for a decade-plus. Raef LaFrentz, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, Harrison Barnes, Marcus Paige... all followed the siren song of Williams, first to Lawrence, KS and then to Chapel Hill, NC. Tom Davis couldn't keep those kids at home. Steve Alford couldn't keep those kids at home. Todd Lickliter couldn't keep those kids at home. But Fran McCaffery could -- and did. Roy Williams visited Woodbury in Iowa, sung his sweet song... and got turned down. Woodbury isn't going to singlehandedly change the fortunes of the Iowa program or get them back to the NCAA Tournament by himself, but he could be the cornerstone in Fran's efforts to pull Iowa basketball out of the mire, both for his efforts on the court and for the symbolic power of his recruitment off the court.
THE SIDEKICK TO THE STAR
Mike Gesell PG (6-1; 185; Sioux City, NE | 4* ESPN | 4* Rivals | 4* Scout | #73 ESPNU 100)
Neither Woodbury nor Gesell are likely to redshirt next year (Iowa certainly isn't in a position to let sit 4* recruits for a year), but of the two it's entirely possible that it's Gesell, not Woodbury, who will be relied upon to do more and adjust to the college game quicker. After all, while Iowa's depth in the post won't exactly be great next year (current freshman Gabe Olaseni is Iowa's lone returning big), it's still better than Iowa's depth at the point guard spot, which is nonexistent. After Bryce Cartwright departs at the end of this season, the job will be wide open -- and odds are Gesell will be the man filling it next winter.
Gesell's career has been intertwined with Woodbury's for years -- both hail from Sioux City (Gesell from the Nebraska side of the river, Woodbury from the Iowa side) and both have been longtime AAU teammates -- so it's fitting that both are now headed to Iowa. Like Woodbury, Gesell's racked up plenty of plaudits in recent years -- two-time state champion, Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska last year, and star ratings just as shiny as Woodbury's -- and he seems like a solid fit in Fran's plan to play a more up-tempo, pressing style: ESPN praises his ability to push the ball and finish in transition, as well as his clutch shooting ability. He'll need to work on his dedefense and becoming a better facilitator at Iowa, something he hasn't had to much of yet at the high school (where he can -- and does -- dominate his competition) or AAU (where he has teammate Marcus Paige to do that for him) level. But he's still a very big get for Iowa and someone you can probably feel safe penciling into the 2012 starting line-up today.
THE BACKCOURT DEPTH
Patrick Ingram G (6-3; 180; Indianapolis, IN | 3* ESPN | 3* Rivals | 2* Scout)
Anthony Clemmons G (6-1; 185; Lansing, MI | 2* ESPN | 3* Rivals | 2* Scout)
That is, unless Anthony Clemmons surprises the experts and stakes his claim to that job. Clemmons and Ingram are both listed as guards, with Ingram listed by most services as a SG and Clemmons as a PG. Neither are as heralded as Woodbury or Gesell, but both appear to be solid additions to the team at positions of need. Iowa pulled Clemmons away from Eastern Michigan and he should give them something they haven't had for a while: two healthy scholarship options at point guard. Clemmons is lauded as a "pure" point guard, and specifically commended for his ability to manage an offense (three of Clemmons' HS teammates will be playing college hoops) and play defense. His shooting touch is reportedly iffy, but if his ability as a facilitator and defender can transition smoothly from high school to college -- who knows? -- Clemmons could be The Man at point guard next year. If nothing else, he'll provide invaluable depth. Ingram, on the other hand, looks like the quintessential wing player for Fran's system: a quick, athletic slasher with the ability to run in transition, finish at the rim, and defend well. He needs to work on his jump shot, but he looks like he could be a quintessential energy guy off the bench next year, with the potential for more down the road.
THE OTHER BIG GUY
Kyle Meyer PF/C (6-9; 220; Alpharetta, GA | 3* ESPN | 3* Rivals | 3* Scout)
Meyer is kind of the forgotten man in this recruiting class, probably because he's not a local guy and because he verbaled to Iowa way back in March. He chose Iowa over interest from Clemson and East Carolina, but we really don't know that much about him. The ESPN profile hits some of the standard points: decent shooter, good in transition, pretty solid defender, needs to get stronger. Iowa needs low-post players with Andrew Brommer and Devon Archie departing this year; Meyer (and Woodbury) will help fill that void. He may not play a huge role next year, but he appears to have a higher potential ceiling than either Brommer or Archie and could be a valuable contributor within a year or two.
Regrettably, McCaffery seems to be following Ferentz's lead in failing to recruit centaurs. Our long wait for a centaur to suit up in black and gold continues.
Meanwhile, not only can the Iowa coaches talk about the players they are signing this year, they can also talk about the ones who got away. So Doc hit up assistant coach Sherman Dillard to discus the recruitment of Cezar Guerrero and Wes Washpun, two PG recruits who at one time looked likely to go to Iowa, only to head elsewhere (Oklahoma State and Tennesse, respectively). Meanwhile, he also confirmed that, yeah, Bryce is gonna be a busy bee this year:
"Bryce is going to give us 34 minutes a game and even like Oglesby, we feel Josh can play a little bit of point although we don’t want to take him off what he does best and he’s better off the ball. He’s using screens and moving without the basketball than creating for people. So we decided to go with this lineup the way it is and use Marble to back up Bryce."
Also, it's National Signing Day for the women as well and while Lisa Bluder's class isn't as celebrated as Fran McCaffery's, it sounds like a solid group.