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Seat’s Taken: Looking at Iowa Basketball’s Roster Holes

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How does recruiting shake out when there’s no scholarship to give?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Iowa vs Villanova Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Hi. My name’s Jonah. Jonah Parker. People call me Jonah Parker.

I’m a new staff writer for BHGP and I’m a total noob. I’m not from Iowa, didn’t go to Iowa and don’t particularly like the Hawkeyes. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But when all that talent walked out the door, this place got pretty desperate so here I am. I’m doing my best to learn about Kurt Furence and the football team, but I don’t really like that basketball coach who seems to be mad all the time. Anyway, I’m excited to be here, raking in all the dough and look forward to learning more about Iowa.

Wait, that’s not right. I am from Iowa, I did go to Iowa and I’m still hanging around the ped mall (alright, alright, alright). While I haven’t been an active member of the BHGP community, I’ve been a lurker and have to say there are some big shoes to fill. Big enough that I think I’ll pass on trying to fill them and rock my flip flops instead. I look forward to sharing my crappy opinions with you and hopefully giving you something to kill a couple of minutes of work each week. Feel free to give me a follow on the Twitters @JPinIC_BHGP. I will make you dumber. And with that, let’s dive right in.

Commence

As we sit a mere three weekends away from the start of college football, we are in the midst of a dead period in the way of college hoops. The live evaluation period ended a little over a week ago and we now slog through life until September 8th. It seems like as good a time as any to sit back and take a look at where things fall into place in regards to basketball recruiting.

While the college coaching community has been in the quiet period for a little over a week, the Iowa staff has been silent for some time. With only Peter Jok and Dale Jones slated to graduate after this season, there should only be two scholarships to hand out. One of them is already accounted for with Fran’s 4-star son Connor McCaffery in the fold at PG for 2017. The other was taken off the table when we learned a few weeks ago that Jones was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Put simply, there are no seats left on the bus. That doesn’t mean the guys haven’t been out there pounding the pavement, but it does mean they are being pretty selective and narrowing their focus a bit.

But wait, you say, how can Iowa even expect to take another commitment without an open scholarship? Well, it’s 2016. Last year there were more than 700 transfers from the 351 D1 schools. I’m no math major, but that seems like a lot. Like at least 2 per school (for the actual math majors out there, note it is more than 700, not 700 exactly). If the trend continues, we should expect to see a transfer or two from the Hawkeyes. And if not, we learned recently that McCaffery the younger has decided to play both basketball and baseball and is open to walking on. Bottom line, if the staff wants to add a body, there will be room.

Now, it’s not exactly a secret Fran and Co. are in the market for a big man in the 2017 class. The vast majority of reported offers have been to such recruits. Sure there have been a few small forwards or shooting guards like Jordan Goodwin or Gary Trent Jr., but those have opted to join blueblood programs or Illinois, and most have already trimmed their lists, leaving Iowa off.

The three names most bandied about with the Hawkeyes have been PF Malik Williams of Indiana, PF Jack Nunge, also of Indiana, and C Luka Garza from Washington, D.C. Less than two weeks ago we heard that Williams was scheduling an official visit to Iowa City. A few days later he decided to join the choir boys over at Louisville.

With no scholarships available and only two primary targets still on the table, it seems pretty clear the staff is OK with only taking someone they really want in this class. So which of the two will it be? My guess is Jack Nunge. He is the less heralded of the two still available and the only one not planning on spending a night in Louisville (that we know of). Garza visited at the end of June and said at that time he planned to return. I don’t know of any high schoolers who wouldn’t want to spend lots of nights there.

While Williams seems like a potential early entry candidate, both Garza and Nunge look like they belong in college for four years. The two have different builds and slightly different playing styles. Garza has shown the ability to face up and knock down the outside shot, but has a bigger frame and at times doesn’t look terribly springy or fast. Clearly the staff likes what they see, but he strikes me as a poor man’s Georges Niang. Nunge, on the other hand, isn’t quite as big, but seems even more capable from the perimeter. I’d liken him to a poor man’s Jarrod Uthoff, perhaps without the cajones. Both would be great additions.

Of the two, Garza seems to have been moving at a slightly faster pace with his decision-making. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him commit (to Iowa or elsewhere) before the 2016-2017 season begins. Nunge, on the other hand, will likely linger into the spring. Given the scholarship situation at Iowa, it just seems likely that Garza heads elsewhere and the Hawkeyes land Nunge or a guy who’s flying under the radar at the moment. At this point, Iowa fans just need to keep the faith and trust in Fran. While some might criticize his ability to close on high profile recruits, his ability to identify talent should be unquestioned.