It’s National Signing Day week in the world of college football. The message boards, Twitters and interwebz in general will be buzzing all week with talk of football crootin’ news. The excitement (it is excitement, right?) building on that front, makes it easy to forget about Fran and Company’s recruiting efforts.
We are a little under two months away from the start of the 2017 NCAA tournament and your Iowa Hawkeyes, on their youthful roller coaster ride of a season, are likely to be enjoying the festivities from the outside looking in. That said, we have seen glimpses this season to give any true fan reason for hope when looking to the future. This weekend we saw the young team take down OSU convincingly without senior leader Peter Jok. That experience will be critical in building for next year and beyond. So to will be the recruiting the staff is doing.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that this current version of the Iowa Hawkeyes is collectively barely old enough to vote. This year’s squad will lose only Peter Jok to graduation. Dom Uhl is back next year as a true senior and Dale Jones will be finalizing his doctorate during his 6th year of eligibility after a career full of injuries.
So, that leaves the Hawkeyes with 12 players on scholarship going into next year and one opening as the roster stands today. Despite that math, the staff has three players committed and two signed to LOI in this recruiting class. The third isn’t going anywhere. It’s Fran’s son, Connor, and he will be a Hawkeye, scholarship or not.
We’ll leave the conversation about how you make room for those three additions for another day. Instead, we focus our attentions now on what those commits have been up to of late.
Class of 2017
Jack Nunge - F
Jack Nunge is perhaps the least heralded of the recruits in the class of 2017, but don’t let the stars (he has 3 and is ranked as the 198th recruit nationally by the 247 composite) fool you. Nunge is very good. The absence of Jarrod Uthoff from this year’s Hawkeye squad is evident and many fans are likely wishing he was still playing in the black and gold rather than whatever colors the Mad Ants are sporting these days. There’s no replacing Uthoff, but the arrival of Nunge may be a close second as his game is eerily reminiscent of Uthoff’s.
Through 18 games this year, Nunge is averaging 22 points a game to go with 11 rebounds and 3 blocks a game. Not bad at all playing in Indiana’s top class.
Nunge was in Iowa City over the weekend to witness the win over OSU. At 6’10” with the ability to step outside and knock down shots and take his man off the dribble, Iowa fans should be looking forward to seeing him in Iowa City much more frequently.
Luka Garza - C
One of Iowa’s struggles this year has been defending the post and rebounding. In the games where the team has looked good, those two areas have been just fine. In the games where Iowa has looked rough, those have been leading indicators of failure (along with defensive rotations to find shooters and overall effort, but I digress). The addition of Nunge, at 6’10” may help some, but at around 190 lbs, he isn’t exactly a banger.
Enter Luka Garza. Garza, while not entirely a banger either, has the frame to fill the void in the middle. He stands at 6’11” and is much thicker at around 230 lbs. Despite not being a high flyer, Garza was highly sought after on the recruiting trail, and for good reason. He has great size and, like Nunge, the ability to step outside and knock down shots will make him a match-up nightmare. He also has really good footwork and can play with his back-to-the-basket. His game is similar to Pemsl’s around the hoop, but Garza adds the ability to step outside and hit a jumper and his added height provides more of an inside presence on defense.
Through 14 games this season, the DC product is averaging 25 points a game. Garza is now up to the #126 ranked prospect according to 247 and is ranked as the 12th-best center in the country.
Connor McCaffery - G
The lone scholarship commit in the class of 2017 who has yet to sign a LOI is Fran’s eldest son, Connor. Given the current headcount situation and Connor’s interest in playing baseball at the collegiate level, he likely won’t be signing anything unless (until) someone(s?) announces their departure following the end of the season. Let the speculation begin (or continue, whatever).
Despite having been a lock for the Hawkeyes for some time, Connor is the crown jewel of the class from the ranking perspective. He’s a consensus 4-star and sits just outside the top 100 at 111 in the 247 composite. While Nunge is a nice addition as a big man who can stretch defenses and Garza fills a void in the middle, McCaffery a combo guard who likely finds himself in the mix with guys like Christian Williams and Isaiah Moss looking for minutes at the shooting guard spot with the ability to bring the ball up the floor (I get that Williams is technically a “PG” but he is a big guard who would likely be a SG on nearly every other team in the country).
He’s a solid shooter with good ball skills and a willing passer. He is what you expect out of a coach’s son. He doesn’t have a ton of weaknesses and at 6’6” he can shoot over smaller guards.
Through 13 games this year, McCaffery the elder is averaging 19 ppg with a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Austin Ash - G (walk-on)
As we’ve seen with the emergence of Nicholas Baer, walk-ons under Fran McCaffery will have the opportunity to contribute. Baer’s story no doubt will help reel in other walk-ons who might have otherwise found themselves on scholarship at other programs.
Ash is one of those kids who likely would’ve found his way to a lesser known program (likely not a P5 school) and gotten time as he fills out and develops. He’s a shooter with the ability to get into the lane and finish. He likely won’t contribute early in his time at Iowa, but like Baer, he could find his way onto the court before his career is over.
Through 12 games this season, he is averaging 21 ppg at Mt. Vernon and shooting over 45% from beyond the arch.
Class of 2018
As we get into the class of 2018, things open up just a little on the scholarship front. After next season, the Hawkeyes will lose Dom Uhl and Dale Jones to graduation. As mentioned previously, Connor McCaffery has the potential to join this year as a walk on and in that scenario, he would likely go on scholarship when one becomes available, ostensibly in 2018. So that leaves one open spot and it is already spoken for.
Joe Wieskamp - G
Wieskamp, by all accounts, looks like a stud. He is one of the highest rated recruits Fran has ever reeled in (yeah, yeah, it’s still early, but it’s recruiting, it’s always early) and thus far in his young career he has lived up to the hype. He is a top 50 recruit by essentially every service out there (#38 according to 247’s composite) and currently sits as a 4-star.
Playing well in Iowa class 4A doesn’t always translate to playing well in the Big Ten, but Wieskamp has shown an ability to get to the rim with ease and has a shooting stroke so smooth Iowa fans may forget about Peter Jok (OK, that’ll likely never happen, but the kid can shoot). And he has had success on the AAU circuit, not just in HS.
This season, Wieskamp is averaging 31 points and 10 rebounds a game for Muscatine. A couple weeks ago he had back to back performances as follows: 42 point and 15 boards followed up by 47 points and 11 boards. And it’s not exactly a secret that he is the guy to stop on his team. He is still scoring roughly half his teams points with all the defensive attention on him. Sign. Me. Up.
Class of 2019
As we start to look way into the future, we see the turnover period that results from the class imbalance we currently have. Folowing 2019, the Hawkeyes will lose Baer, Ellingson, Wagner and Williams to graduation (or other reasons). That’s four open scholarships as the youth movement begins to turn into a senior citizen movement. As it stands today, one of those spots is already spoken for. It’s another McCaffery!
Patrick McCaffery - F
As highly regarded as his older brother, Connor, was, Pat is every bit as talented. Two years younger, Pat is already two inches taller, at 6’8”, and as such he plays a slightly different role. He is still young and his frame needs to continue to fill out (if you look at him now vs. a year ago, the signs are promising), but as it stands, he is more of a face-up, stretch 4. I would think he will develop more back-to-the-basket game as he fills out, but the ability to knock down shots and take guys even remotely close to his size off the dribble is something that will make him trouble for opposing defenses.
McCaffery the younger (but not youngest) is only a sophomore at West High in Iowa City. He’s averaging 14 points a game this year on a team with a couple of D-1 players. He’s a 4-star player and comes in at #121 nationally.
Patrick McCaffery with a mini two-handed windmill dunk. pic.twitter.com/aE65z0vaKA— Scott Westerberg (@ScottWesterberg) January 25, 2017
Class of 2020
My how time flies. As we look at the class of 2020, nobody on the current roster will be around in 2020 (pending RS of course). Following 2020, the Hawkeyes will lose Pemsl, Cook, Bohannon, Moss, Dailey and Kriener to graduation (again, pending RS and assuming none of them leave). Those are a lot of shoes to fill. Luckily, things are pretty much wrapped up for several years on the recruiting front and Fran can spend plenty of time and energy looking for the right guys to fill these spots. While there are no commits as of yet, there are a few names already floating around.
Xavier Foster - F/C
If there are big shoes to fill, there is nobody better suited to fill them than Xavier Foster. Foster is only a freshman at Oskaloosa HS, but he is already 6’10”. They always say you can’t teach size. I agree. But Foster is more than just size. For a guy that big and that young, he moves remarkably well. Given he is so young, he is still pretty thin, as you would expect. But he is very fluid in his movements and not at all clumsy as you might expect for someone still growing into their body.
There’s not a lot of tape on him yet (he is in his first year of playing HS ball, after all). But what little there is should be enough to give you a glimpse into the bright future this young man has.
Carson McCorkle - G
With Bohannon, Moss and Dailey all departing in the same class, there will obviously be a need for a guard in 2020. One of the early names to keep an eye on is Carson McCorkle. McCorkle is a 6’2” SG from Raleigh, NC. Like Foster, he has several offers for a freshman in HS, including ones from Georgia Tech, NC State, and of course Iowa. As we’ve seen, Fran likes guys who can knock down shots. That’s McCorkle in a nutshell. The kid can stroke it.
He’s still young, but he has shown an ability to take guys off the dribble and finish in traffic and through contact. Combine that with his shooting ability and it won’t be long before some big names come calling. Given where he’s grown up, I wouldn’t hold my breath if UNC or Duke get involved, but Iowa being in early can’t hurt. McCorkle was in Iowa City over the weekend and apparently enjoyed his time.
There’s a lot of time between now and signing day in November of 2017, so expect plenty of changes. There will likely be at least one departure from the Iowa roster (in addition to the loss of Jok). There almost certainly won’t be any addition to the class of 2017, and likely not for 2018 either.
There are, however, a number of spots open in 2019 and 2020. The staff has been focusing almost exclusively there. We’ll keep you updated as new names emerge. It wouldn’t be creepy if we weren’t writing about 15-year-olds on a Monday morning.
You know you like it. Happy Monday. Go Hawks.