With the football team on a bye this past week and basketball season inching ever closer, now seems like the perfect time to check in on recruiting news for Fran McCaffery and the Iowa Basketball Hawkeyes. Oh yeah, and there was this kid who happened to be the highest rated recruit since the creation of the Rivals database to commit to Iowa last week. So yeah, probably a good time to get caught up.
Here’s a quick look at how things look from a scholarship perspective:
Iowa Basketball Scholarship Distribution Chart
|POS||SR||JR||SO||FR||Total||2018 COMMITS||2019 COMMITS|
|POS||SR||JR||SO||FR||Total||2018 COMMITS||2019 COMMITS|
|PG||--||JORDAN BOHANNON||CONNOR MCCAFFERY**||2|
|SG||--||BRADY ELLINGSON*||ISAIAH MOSS* MAISHE DAILEY||--||3||JOE WIESKAMP CJ FREDRICK|
|SF||DOM UHL||NICHOLAS BAER||CORDELL PEMSL||--||3||PAT MCCAFFERY|
|PF||--||AHMAD WAGNER||TYLER COOK||JACK NUNGE||3|
|C||--||--||RYAN KRIENER||LUKA GARZA||2|
That leaves Fran and company with 1 scholarship opening for the class of 2018, assuming there are no early departures. You’ll recall that Connor McCaffery is currently a walk on and the plan would be for him to take a scholarship at some point, but only if there is one available.
In 2019, things open up a bit more. Again, assuming no early departures and for the sake of simplicity we’ll also assume Connor doesn’t take up a spot, the Hawkeyes will have 4 openings in the class. Those come from the loss of forwards Ahmad Wagner and Nicholas Baer, as well as guards Christian Williams and Brady Ellingson following the 2018 season.
Here’s a breakdown of who is in line to fill those openings the next couple seasons.
Class of 2018
Weight: 190 lbs
Hometown: Muscatine, Iowa
Through the class of 2018, Joe Wieskamp is the highest rated recruit since the Rivals database was created to commit to the Iowa Hawkeyes. He is ranked as the #40 player overall in class of 2018 and continues to rise up the ranks with his play on the AAU circuit and at major camps across the country.
For those that haven’t seen him play, I’ll do my best to compare him to a player in recent memory with the usual caveat that I would never say a high school kid yet to play a second of college ball will be as good as someone we’ve seen for years at the collegiate level. Wieskamp’s comp is Peter Jok. And to really get the hype train going, I’m going to say Peter Jok before he had the knee injuries.
Now, Wieskamp doesn’t flash a ton of spring, but at 6’6” he can still get up. He does a great job of using his body, and most importantly his length, both in rebounding and in creating separation around the hoop to score. He has very good handles for a guy who will likely split time between the SG and SF spot (as much as Fran actually plays guys in a traditional position).
But what really makes Wieskamp special is his shooting stroke, and that’s where the Jok comparison comes in. His shot is as smooth as any I’ve seen other than perhaps Jok. It’s the reason he’s a top 50 recruit nationally and why he’ll be an incredible asset to the Hawkeyes in the class of 2018.
Weight: 170 lbs
Hometown: Alexandria, Kentucky
As we told you then, Frederick is a good sized guard at 6’4” and he can stroke it from deep. Since he committed to the Hawkeyes, he’s been upgraded to a 3-star recruit and is the number 3 recruit overall in the state of Kentucky.
He isn’t a guy who will blow you away with his speed or athleticism, but he is capable of getting into the paint and finishing. His specialty is clearly as a spot up shooter. Fran has shown an affinity for such players. I would say his comp right now is a guy like Brady Ellingson or Josh Oglesby. When he has an opening, he can stroke it from deep.
That’s an asset every team covets. Perhaps most notable is the story around Frederick’s commitment. As you’ll recall, Frederick and his family have a unique relationship with McCaffery, as his uncle actually played for Fran when he was an assistant at Notre Dame. Iowa offered him a scholarship over a year ago and while most of us dropped him off our radar with no open spots, he apparently kept in contact with McCaffery every few weeks. Now that there are no open spots, Frederick decided his desire to play for Fran and Iowa was strong enough to overcome the challenge of scholarships. He’s planning to take the Connor McCaffery approach, paying his own way the first year and figuring things out when a spot becomes available.
The class of 2018 isn’t just full, it’s overflowing. The class of 2017 included 3 commitments for 2 spots, with Fran’s eldest son Connor walking on in both basketball and baseball. The plan is for him to focus on baseball this year and hoops the following season, when he could potentially be on scholarship.
That’s all well and good except the class of 2018, which only had one scholarship opening before Connor was potentially taking a spot, includes both the aforementioned Weiskamp and Frederick. As stated above, Frederick is walking on for now, but will be looking for a scholarship at some point. There is no room on the bus in 2018 - there are already people standing aboard.
Class of 2019
Weight: 180 lbs
Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa
I mentioned above that Joe Wieskamp was the highest rated recruit since the creation of the Rivals database up through the 2018 class. That last caveat was thrown in because of one Patrick McCaffery. Pat, cancer survivor and middle of the McCaffery sons, comes to Fran in the class of 2019 as the new highest rated recruit since the database was created. Here’s a look at the company he’s keeping:
Highest ranked Iowa Basketball commits in the Rivals era (2003-Present)
1. Patrick McCaffery #30 in the Class of 2019
2. Joe Wieskamp #40 in the Class of 2018
3. Tyler Smith #43 in the Class of 2006
4. Adam Woodbury #50 in the Class of 2012
5. Tyler Cook #74 in the Class of 2016
6. Mike Gesell #100 in the Class of 2012
7. Luka Garza #111 in the Class of 2017
8. Matt Gatens #120 in the Class of 2008
A couple of things. First off, that’s a hell of a list. And secondly, notice the trend there? Under Fran, the recruits just keep getting better. Pat marks the fourth consecutive year coach McCaffery has landed a top 150 recruit and back-to-back seasons with a top-50 guy.
Why is Pat ranked so highly? Well, have a look-see.
Only entering his junior season, the middle McCaffery stands at 6’8” or 6’9” depending on which site you choose and he moves incredibly well for his size. He has very good ball-handling for a big man and gets into the lane at will. His length and athleticism allow for some pretty incredible finishes. If all that wasn’t enough, he is a really strong shooter for his size. The versatility make him a matchup nightmare.
There are things to work on. He needs to add some bulk and continue to touch up his footwork and add to those strengths mentioned above. But as it stands, he is perhaps the best recruit many young Hawkeyes fans will remember (I’ll leave the debate about some pre-2003 recruits up to the commenters). He reminds me a lot of Aaron White with the potential for some better shooting and ball handling.
Weight: 180 lbs
Hometown: Bettendorf, Iowa
A look at that scholarship chart shows a glaring need at the guard spots. The addition of Wieskamp and Frederick in 2018 mitigates some things, predominantly at the SG spot, but the PG spot is still in need of some bodies. That’s where Bettendorf product DJ Carton comes in.
Carton is another top-100 kid, ranked 70th overall by Rivals in the class of 2019. He has good handles, the ability to get into the lane when necessary and is a very good passer. He has a quality jumper and can make defenders pay if the slack off of him from deep.
The competition for Carton will certainly be heated. The Hawkeyes kept in close contact with him, but were not the first Big Ten team to offer as Wisconsin beat them to the punch. The majority of the Big Ten West has now offered, as has Missouri, Marquette and K-State, but Wisconsin’s lead recruiter may be the toughest to beat. It’s none other than former Hawkeye Dean Oliver.
Weight: 210 lbs
Hometown: Greenwood, Indiana
Another top target for the Hawkeyes in 2019 is big man Trayce Jackson-Davis. Jackson-Davis is, like Pat, a 6’9” forward who sits just inside the top 50 among recruits nationally. A look at the video leaves no doubt why.
There’s a whole lot of Tyler Cook in his game. He is a monster finisher around the basket. He hasn’t been asked to do a ton with the ball other than throw it through the hoop with authority, and that’s something I’d expect him to work on. But his skillset compliments that of Patrick’s really well.
Jackson-Davis met a visit to Iowa City for the Penn State game back in September. Here’s what he had to say to HawkeyNation:
I can tell its a family there just by how the players are towards each other. I really enjoyed the visit and I really like the program.
Jackson-Davis has offers from Purdue, Indiana, Butler, Xavier and Michigan State among others. He will be a highly sought-after recruit in 2019.
Weight: 220 lbs
Hometown: Roeland Park, Kansas
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is perhaps the highest rated recruit the Hawkeyes are really in on in the class of 2019. The Kansas native comes in at #16 in the Rivals rankings for his class and the ranking is certainly warranted.
You can see right away, JRE is not built like a kid heading into his junior season. He’s the same height as Patrick McCaffery, but has about 40 pounds on him and it’s all good weight. He uses his body incredibly well for his age and has very good footwork around the hoop.
He’s the type of recruit all the blue blood programs will be in on, as evidenced not only by the 5-star rating, but also the offer list. Currently, that list includes the likes of Kansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wake Forest, UCLA and about a dozen other high major programs. Typically that’s the kind of kid Hawkeye fans don’t give a second though to, but things are a bit different with a pair of top-50 kids in the fold in 2018 and 2019. Robinson-Earl already visited Iowa City for the North Texas game back in September and seems fairly high on Iowa, telling HawkeyeNation the following:
Iowa was the first school that I spoke to and I believe they also have attended the most high school and club activities of any university recruiting me. I’ve enjoyed talking to Coach (Kirk) Speraw, Coach (Andrew) Francis and now Coach (Fran) McCaffery.
I know that Iowa is a strong school academically and that they have strong football and basketball programs. Being a part of the Big Ten is always tough competition. I have several family members from Iowa and they’re die-hard Hawkeyes. I look forward to learning more about Iowa.
I’m not saying he’s coming to Iowa, but the inroads are laid with yet another high end recruit under coach McCaffery.
Weight: 220 lbs
Hometown: Belleville, Illinois
Just in case the last two power forward prospects weren’t enough, the Hawkeyes are in on yet another top-100 PF. EJ Liddell is a bit shorter than the other two, but has a very good frame at 220 lbs. His game is quite reminiscent of Tyler Cook’s, which is especially interesting given the two are friends. Liddell is from Belleville, Illinois, just east of the Mississippi from St. Louis, where Cook grew up.
He’s got a ton of athleticism and a great knack for finishing at the rim. He’ll need to improve his shooting and some of his footwork around the hoop, but for a kid going into his junior season he looks very good. As you would expect, the competition will be high for him as well. He already boasts offers from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State and St. Louis, among others.
Other Names to Know
Weight: 165 lbs
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
McKinney is the 73rd ranked recruit overall in 2019 according to Rivals. He holds offers from Auburn, Kansas State, Marquette, Xavier and others.
Weight: 185 lbs
Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Malik Hall is the 49th overall recruit in the class of 2019 according to Rivals. He holds offers from Butler, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahama, Oklahoma State and others.
Weight: 180 lbs
Hometown: Georgetown, Kentucky
Michael Moreno is currently unranked by Rivals. Iowa is currently his only offer, but he has interest from a number of high major programs.
Weight: 160 lbs
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
As always, recruiting is a very fluid thing. There will be a number of new names surfacing as we progress into the season this year and the AAU circuit next summer. Expect new offers to be handed out, visits to continue and names to drop off the radar. We will keep you updated throughout the process.