We've expected for a while that there would likely be a transfer on the horizon for the Iowa basketball program. Partially that's the nature of college basketball today -- including Hutton, 15 Big Ten players have already announced plans to transfer from their existing schools -- and partially it was the nature of the situation at Iowa. A six-person recruiting class like Iowa had in 2015 is simply very difficult to manage -- it's tough to keep all those guys happy and find minutes for all of them. So we thought someone from that group would probably be leaving at some point; on Wednesday, the other shoe dropped.
Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery announced Wednesday that freshman Brandon Hutton has decided to transfer, granted release.— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) March 30, 2016
Hawkeye Nation has the full text of the release from Iowa available here. Hutton himself also posted a brief comment about his decision to leave on Twitter.
I have experienced a great freshman year here at the University of Iowa. It just turned out that the basketball program is not the best fit.— Brandon Hutton Iowa (@B_Hutt_34) March 30, 2016
Hutton's arrival at Iowa was exciting both for his status as a Chicago-land recruit (spurring hopes that Iowa could further develop a pipeline into that rich recruiting territory) and for his obvious athleticism (on display here and here). Hutton expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about being a defensive stopper for Iowa, a role that would have been especially useful for Iowa next year:
"I want to work my way up to being the best defensive player in the Big Ten," Hutton said. "Right now, if my role is to come in and shut the best scorer down on the opposite team, I will do so. As I get older and as I grow and as I develop, then my role will change. But right now I'm just really based on being the best defensive player that I can be for Iowa."
"Really that's what wins games," Hutton said. "You've got a good player that's out there that's going hard no matter what, diving on the floor for loose balls, or loud, talking, active hands, that's going down to the offensive side sooner or later. You want to capitalize a lot on defense. That's why I really think I can excel right now."
Alas, we'll have to find more defense from other sources next year. Hutton wasn't able to crack into Iowa's rotation this past season and, like fellow Chicago-area recruit Isaiah Moss, took a redshirt. Given the widespread uncertainty about Iowa's lineup and rotation next year (which currently boils down to Peter Jok and a bunch of question marks -- and could get even more unclear if Jok does end up leaving school for the NBA Draft), Hutton seemed to have as good a chance as almost anyone to earn minutes and carve out a role next year. As it turns out, he'll be doing that somewhere else. Best of luck to Brandon wherever he lands.
Hutton's departure does, of course, free up a scholarship. What happens with that now-available scholarships is open for debate. It could go to Nicholas Baer, who Fran described as "deserving" of a scholarship at various times over the past season. It could go to a Class of 2016 recruit like Christian Vital, a point guard that Iowa has been in communication with of late. It could also go to a graduate transfer point guard, if one becomes available and is interested in Iowa. But I think we can be confident that one of those situations will play out -- that scholarship won't be going unused in 2016-17.
And, of course, we could see more than one of those scenarios play out if another player decides to transfer. (I have no inside information, but the fact that Brady Ellingson fell completely out of Iowa's rotation at the end of the season doesn't seem to bode well for his future prospects, especially considering that Iowa's other available backcourt options were not exactly lighting it up over that stretch.) The transfer merry-go-round spins ever-faster these days. The updated Iowa scholarship table is available below (for now, I'm assuming that Peter Jok will return for his senior season in 2016-17):
|1||Peter Jok||Dominique Uhl||Brady Ellingson*||Isaiah Moss*|
|2||Dale Jones||Brady Ellingson*||Andrew Fleming||Cordell Pemsl|
|3||Dominique Uhl||Andrew Fleming||Ahmad Wagner||Ryan Kriener|
|4||Brady Ellingson*||Ahmad Wagner||Christian Williams||Jordan Bohannon|
|5||Andrew Fleming||Christian Williams||Isaiah Moss*||Tyler Cook|
|6||Ahmad Wagner||Isaiah Moss*||Cordell Pemsl||Connor McCaffery|
|7||Christian Williams||Cordell Pemsl||Ryan Kriener||Joe Wieskamp|
|8||Isaiah Moss*||Ryan Kriener||Jordan Bohannon||Patrick McCaffery|
|9||Cordell Pemsl||Jordan Bohannon||Tyler Cook|
|10||Ryan Kriener||Tyler Cook||Connor McCaffery|
|11||Jordan Bohannon||Connor McCaffery||Joe Wieskamp|
|* used redshirt|
Iowa now has one available scholarship to use next year and, depending on who takes it, two available scholarships for the Class of 2017 (and, potentially, the Class of 2018). If Baer or an incoming recruit take the final scholarship, Iowa will again have just one available scholarship to go along with Connor McCaffery in the Class of 2017. If a graduate transfer takes the final scholarship this year, Iowa would have two available scholarships for next year.