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Hoops Crootin Boogie: Checking in on Iowa Basketball’s Recruits

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As the Iowa Basketball season draws to an end, so too do the various high school seasons. Let’s check in with the recruits the Hawkeyes have in the fold and on the radar.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa
Fran has a reputation for getting angry, but there’s plenty to be happy about in the Hawkeye recruiting pipeline.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

We’re less than two weeks away from the start of the Big Ten Tournament and the high school basketball season is quickly coming to a close as well. The state of Iowa has started it’s post-season play, as have many other states around the country. Here’s a quick look at how current Iowa commits have performed, and a couple names to keep an eye on as we move past the 2016-2017 season and into the future of Hawkeye Hoops.

First and foremost, let’s review where things stand from a scholarship distribution standpoint.

Iowa Basketball Depth Chart by Class

POS SR JR SO FR 2017 COMMITS 2018 COMMITS 2019 COMMITS
POS SR JR SO FR 2017 COMMITS 2018 COMMITS 2019 COMMITS
PG -- -- CHRISTIAN WILLIAMS JORDAN BOHANNON CONNOR MCCAFFERY
SG PETER JOK -- BRADY ELLINGSON* ISAIAH MOSS* MAISHE DAILEY -- JOE WIESKAMP
SF -- DOM UHL NICHOLAS BAER CORDELL PEMSL -- PAT MCCAFFERY
PF -- DALE JONES* AHMAD WAGNER TYLER COOK JACK NUNGE
C -- -- -- RYAN KRIENER LUKA GARZA

Note: * denotes a player who has already used their redshirt year. Dale Jones has used his redshirt year and has also been granted a medical hardship waiver for a 6th year of eligibility to return next year.

As you can see, the class of 2017 appears to be in a bit of a Tom Crean situation. Don’t get your panties in a bunch just yet. As noted above, Dale Jones is only showing up as a senior for next year due to the medical hardship waiver he received this year to permit him to play a 6th season. He indicated late in the summer he may be open to using that final season elsewhere. Given his minimal role upon a return from injury late this season, I think that’s a safe bet for opening up a scholarship next year.

Additionally, much has been made of Connor McCaffery’s potential for walking on next year or only playing baseball. I think the competitor in him keeps him on the hoops roster, but if nobody else leaves the program, the ability to walk on gives Fran some flexibility.

That said, it remains likely at least one other player on the roster decides to take their talents elsewhere following this season. I’ll leave the speculation as to who up to you all (my gut still tells me it’s Dailey, but nobody knows what college kids are thinking so anything could happen). But the number of transfers in recent years not just at Iowa, but nationally indicate there will be multiple guys leaving at the conclusion of 2017, creating room for all 3 commits in this class. Speaking of the class of 2017...

Class of 2017 Commits

Luka Garza - C

Garza is the biggest recruit in the class of 2017 in the literal sense. He’s nearly 7’ tall and has a solid build for a high school kid his height. I’ve talked before about how much I like his game, with solid footwork around the basket and the ability to step out and knock down a three. He’s a guy that can lobby for early playing time given his sheer size. There is a logjam at the forward spot next year with Cook, Wagner and Pemsl all looking very good at times this year. Kreiner has started to show flashes here and there as well, but he seems more suited to be a pure center. I would expect Garza to push Kreiner for minutes next year and exclusively play the 5, so far as Iowa plays a traditional lineup.

In his senior year at Maret in Washington, DC, Garza is averaging 24.4 points and 12.9 rebounds per game; shooting 74% from the floor. Yikes. A quick look at some recent games shows he scored 26 in a 73-53 win over Potomac on Tuesday of this week. He had 34 points, 15 rebounds in 79-62 win over Friendship Tech last Saturday. Last week he had 24 points and 14 rebounds in a 62-47 win over Sidwell and 13 points and 7 rebounds in a 59-30 win over Georgetown Day. On the season, Maret is 22-3.

Jack Nunge - F

In an attempt to have some method to the madness, I suppose we’ll move down the list in size order. That brings us to Jack Nunge. I’ve said over and over that Nunge is Jarrod Uthoff lite. It’s not fair to expect anyone to be anything close to an all-Big Ten player as a freshman, but Nunge’s game is really similar to Uthoffs. He has tremendous length at 6’10” to go with an ability to stroke it from outside and somehow get around defenders to finish at the rim. I think he comes to Iowa further along in his progression than Uthoff was as a freshman redshirting at Wisconsin. If he develops anything at all like the former Hawkeye did, fans should be ecstatic.

On the season, Nunge is averaging 21.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game in Indiana’s highest class of hoops. It really is impressive, especially the 3.5 blocks per game, in my opinion.

Last week, Nunge dropped 22 points and hauled in 13 rebounds, but Castle lost to Henderson 80-62 on Friday. That takes the team to 19-3 on the year.

Castle’s quest for a state title will begin on 3/3 when they take on the winner of Evansville North and Evansville Central. The sectional semifinal will take place in Evansville at 7pm ET/ 6pm CT.

You can check out the playoff bracket here.

Connor McCaffery - G

Last, but not least, we come to the first of what I hope is a long line of McCaffery kids wearing a Hawkeye uniform. Connor comes in as the shortest, yet the highest rated of the class of 2017 recruits (he sits at #111 in the 247 composite, as compared to Garza at #126 and Nunge at #198). Since we are playing the comparison game, I think Connor looks most like current Hawkeye Jordan Bohannon. He is a little taller at 6’6” and I think Bohannon is a better pure shooter, but McCaffery is a solid shooter and a very good distributor. If he has half the guts JB has shown this year, the backcourt will be in very good hands for years to come.

In his senior season of high school, McCaffery is averaged 19.6 points per game for a West High team that finished the regular season 18-3.

Last week, Connor dropped 18 points in a 85-61 win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson on Tuesday. Then on senior night Thursday, he had 19 points and 7 rebounds in a 58-46 win over Cedar Rapids Xavier. On Saturday, McCaffery finished with 22 points, but saw West lose to St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall by a final of 85-72.

West will now take on Pleasant Valley on Friday (2/24) at West High School in Iowa City in a substate semifinal. Tip off is at 7pm. You can view West’s substate bracket here.

If you want to see a little more of Connor’s game, Rob Howe ran a really good piece over on Hawkeye Nation earlier this week. It’s worth a look.

Austin Ash - G (walk-on)

Ash will look to be the latest coming of current Hawkeye Nicholas Baer. His game isn’t much like Baer’s, but if he can put in the work and play the role of junkyard dog the way Baer has, he may find a way onto the court by the time he leaves Iowa City.

This season, Ash averaged 23.0 points per game while shooting 43.9% from 3-point. His Mt. Vernon squad wrapped up their regular season with a 67-51 loss to Grinnell last Thursday. Ash dropped 25 points and 6 rebounds in the loss. Mt. Vernon finished the year 16-4.

The post season got started with a 62-46 win over Maquoketa on Monday. Mt. Vernon will take on Cedar Rapids Xavier tonight at 7pm in Mt. Vernon for the district championship. Here’s a link to their 3A district bracket.

Class of 2018 Commits

As we saw above, the class of 2018 has one available scholarship. The Hawkeyes lose Dom Uhl to graduation this season. There is the potential Dale Jones is still here next year and would graduate with Uhl. If that’s the case, someone(s) else would have had to leave the program to create space in the class of 2017. Either way, one open spot in 2018 and that seat’s taken.

Joe Wieskamp - G

I suppose we can keep the comparison game going and I can keep the hype train chugging along. Wieskamp looks an awful lot like Peter Jok to me. The kid can flat out stroke it and 6’6”, he has a similar build.

Muscatine wrapped up their regular season last week with a 69-61 win over North Scott. Wieskamp had one of his lowest outputs of the year with only 9 points to go with 13 rebounds. Earlier in the week he contributed 18 points and 9 rebounds in Muscatine's 55-51 win over Davenport West on Tuesday.

The Muskies finished the regular season at 14-6 with Wieskamp averaging 30.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Seriously. As a sophomore the kid averaged 31 and 10. Exciting times ahead.

Muscatine will take on Linn-Mar on Friday (2/24) at Muscatine at 7pm. The Muskies find themselves in the same substae bracket as McCaffery’s West High. You can view that bracket here.

Class of 2019

Things open up a bit in terms of scholarship availability for the Hawkeyes in 2019. The departures of Brady Ellingson, Christian Williams, Ahmad Wagner and Nicholas Baer creates four openings. However, the Hawkeyes are over-subscribed by a scholarship in prior years so barring any other departures there will be three spots to fill in the class of 2019.

With the first real availability of spots in a couple years, it shouldn't come as a big surprise the staff has wasted little time handing out a number of offers to this class.

You can see the complete list of offers here.

As is typical when we look this far out, the offers have primarily been to kids who are going to be highly sought after. After all, they are only sophomores at this point. The one early offer who is all but committed, even at this early stage, is the second of the McCaffery boys.

Patrick McCaffery - F

Patrick is still young and growing into his body. He’s already up to 6’8” and you can see a noticeable difference in his build from his freshman to sophomore years. Expect that development to continue as he ages. As of today, he’s listed as a SF. If he gains quickness, agility and continues to develop his outside shot, SF may be where he ends up. More likely is he becomes a bit of a tweener, similar to Nicholas Baer. I see him as a guy quick enough with a good enough shot to face up as a PF, space the floor and knock down an outside shot or take his man off the dribble, or post up and shoot over a smaller SF. There’s plenty of time for the younger McCaffery to grow and emerge into the player we can expect in 2019.

As a sophomore at West High this year, Patrick averaged 14.9 points per game. Last week he had 12 points in the loss to Cretin-Derham Hall on Saturday. He had 13 points and 5 rebounds in a the win over Xavier last Thursday and 17 points in West's win over Jefferson last Tuesday.

As mentioned above, West High will take on Pleasant Valley on Friday (2/24) at 7pm. You can view West’s substate bracket here.

Like with Connor, Rob Howe at Hawkeye Nation has put together a really nice eval of Patrick’s game. You can take a look here.

With two other openings still up for grabs in 2019, I would expect to see the number of offers continue to grow. I think those two slots are likely filled by guys not yet holding Hawkeye offers. Of the ones who do hold them to date, Tyger Campbell would be a great get. He’s a highly sought after PG at La Lumiere Academy. Campbell is the water bug PG Fran has been after since he got to Iowa City. While the chances are slim as his offer list grows, Campbell does have some family ties to Iowa that leave some glimmer of hope.

I would expect at least one of the spots to go to more of a slashing SF. A look at the scholarship distribution chart above shows that as the most obvious need. There are a few guys listed there, including Pat McCaffery, but none are dynamic slashers who can penetrate and attack the rim. That’s something Iowa has lacked for a while. We’ll see if Fran can land one in 2019.

Class of 2020

The class of 2020, assuming things on the depth chart remain remotely close to as they are today, will be a big class in Iowa recruiting. There are currently six guys in the freshman class. There’s almost no way all six are there to depart at the same time, but nevertheless, there will be a number of spots to fill with the class of 2020. However, the prospects in the class of 2020 are currently freshmen in high school. Evaluating talent at that age is really difficult. That said, Fran and Co. have identified two players worthy of a scholarship offer at this early stage.

Xavier Foster - F/C

I mentioned Foster in the last update. It’s tough to project a guy’s development four years out, but this one looks close to a can’t miss. You can’t teach 6’10”. You can’t teach athleticism. Foster has both and just so happens to live inside the borders of the Hawkeye State.

Foster’s Oskaloosa squad defeated Washington High School on Tuesday to advance to the district championship. Foster finished with 13 pts, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. That will do for a freshman.

Oskaloosa takes on Knoxville tonight at 7pm in Oskaloosa for the district championship. Should they win, they will face the winner of Mt. Pleasant and Fort Madison on 2/27 at 7pm in Fairfield.

Here’s a quick look at that athleticism I mentioned.

Carson McCorkle - G

McCorkle is another guy I’ve touched on previously as the two have been offered for a while. McCorkle doesn’t have the massive frame of Foster, but he has flashed ridiculous athleticism for a freshman in a 6’2” body. He is a deadly shooter with an ability to get into the lane and finish at the rim. We are obviously a long ways from his time on a college campus, but as a freshman he certainly looks like he could be the real deal.

His Broughton (Raleigh, NC) High School team has already started postseason action. They advanced in the first round of the North Carolina State Tournament earlier this week with a 44-42 win over Hillside. They will take on Garner Magnet tonight at 7pm ET/6pm CT. You can see the full tournament bracket here.

As the various post seasons for Iowa commits and recruits wind down, we will keep you updated with how thing are going. I wouldn’t expect much noise on the recruiting front for a while now. But as always, keep the Twitter machine scrolling and keep creepin on those high school kids.