For as successful as Fran McCaffery has been as Iowa's head coach, he's done it without a whole lot of big splashes in recruiting. Sure, he's landed some four-star talent, but Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell haven't been world-beaters, just solid starters, and the best performances have come from former 3-stars Aaron White and Devyn Marble (who was a Todd Lickliter recruit on top of it all). Even Jarrod Uthoff was mainly a regional recruit; the only offers he received from power conference schools in states that didn't border Iowa were from Arizona State and Virginia.
Nonetheless, McCaffery has done an able job of building the program with "his guys," and even after two straight years of losing an NBA-drafted player to graduation, the Hawkeyes are still in good enough shape to have a decent shot at a third straight run at the NCA Tournament. McCaffery's formula sure seems to be working.
And yet, at some point, if Iowa is going to play at an elite level and run with the big boys, it'll have to recruit like the big boys. This, of course, is easier said than done, and that's even assuming everything stays on the straight and narrow—we know better. McCaffery and Iowa have been tailing elite prospects for years, yet almost never coming close to landing them, despite McCaffery's ever-strengthening track record of development and on-court success.
ITS A GREAT DAY TO BE A HAWKEYE‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/e6tG7vjukz— Tyler Cook (@KingCook_25) September 24, 2015
...and then Tyler Cook happened. Cook, a consensus four-star power forward in the 2016 class, committed to Iowa on his 18th birthday with McCaffery and Sherman Dillard making an in-home visit, and if he pans out as well as projections suggest, he'll be a force on the court for as long as he feels like sticking around Iowa City. There'll likely be teams that just have no answer for Cook's post presence, and that's the type of talent perennial NCAA contenders have at their disposal.
Of course, the top programs have several players like that, not just one. Cook's joined by Cordell Pemsl in the 2016 class, and when Pemsl's healthy he looks like a mismatch machine with both his size and ability away from the basket. He's in the middle of rehab after a second knee surgery, and it's the long-term fix he's needed. It's not a given that he'll be back to form, but if he is it's another recruiting victory for Iowa, who has been on Pemsl for years.
Past that, Iowa welcomes Connor McCaffery (we hear he's a "coach's son" of some sort) in the 2017 class and Joe Weiskamp in 2018; both are 4-star wings. Both are also really fun to watch, especially knowing that they've got a few more years to develop their games before it's time to suit up at Carver.
Connor McCaffery is not the next Stephen Curry, for many many reasons. But one of the things about Curry is that he's so well-drilled on the fundamentals that he's capable of recognizing the right instances to throw the more, shall we say, ambitious passes, and we see some signs of that from young McCaffery too. I don't think Connor should be playing the 1 at the college level—his lateral quickness doesn't look like what you'd want against a collegiate on-ball defender—but there's no reason why he can't be part of a lethal two-man game like what Marble and Matt Gatens were running by the end of 2011.
Wieskamp looks like a Baby Uthoff, except with more of a nose for the rim. Maybe Sam Dekker. The mechanics on his jumper look good, he's got a quick, high release, and his overall athleticism sure looks like Not A Problem. Iowa's probably going to have to fend off some of the best programs in college basketball before it's time for Wieskamp to sign.
If 2016 point guard Jordan Bohannon—the last of the Bohannon kids to join the ranks of college basketball players—pans out, Iowa's got an awfully strong base of talent lined up for years to come. And if Bohannon's not a difference-maker and the duo of 2015 combo wings Isaiah Moss and Christian Williams aren't adequate manning the point, there's still one scholarship open for 2017.
But really, that's all there is until 2019—and for all we know, walk-on forward Nicholas Baer is going to play his way into the scholarship when the time comes. Iowa might jump back into the recruiting waters if someone leaves early, but Fran McCaffery has lost one single player that he's recruited out of high school since he's come to Iowa—Kyle Meyer, who's currently balling out for Eastern Florida State College. That's it. So don't be surprised if the glut of wings sticks around through 2019.
Yes, the 2018-19 season seems far off. It isn't. And that season, Iowa will have a remarkable stockpile of young talent being guided by a large senior class. This is what perennial contenders look like. The recruiting is paying off.