We’re back to another Monday and it’s officially week two of prime overreaction season (as in Prime Time season, you see what I did there?). And not only did we get a pair of Prime Time League games to overreact to last week, we had some injury notes and a big time weekend on the recruiting trail for Iowa Football. Buckle up people, it’s time to do what Iowa fans do best: go nuts over a weekend’s worth of news and project into the distant future.
Things got started on Thursday evening as the PTL hit the road for the first time with games played in Waterloo. It’s Monday morning and you may or may not have had your coffee by now, so I’m not going to waste your time. Let’s get right to the stats.
Better late than never. Hawkeyes PTL stats from Thursday night. pic.twitter.com/L43DDGT2cI— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) June 23, 2017
So, first things first. Anybody about have a heart attack when they looked at that and noticed DNP for Tyler Cook, Dom Uhl and Christian Williams? OK, that may have been a stretch, but you’re lying if you want to tell yourself you didn’t look at it and for a second, whisper a little prayer to the basketball gods asking that Tyler Cook not be seriously injured.
Typically, we see a number of Iowa guys miss PTL games due to things like class conflicts (for those of you living under rocks or pretending to not creep on college and high school athletes who may help your favorite team, most Iowa football and basketball players will take summer courses since they’re in Iowa City anyway and need a lighter class load during their sport) or issues finding a ride. Given this was the first set of games away from the Iowa City area, I assumed this was the case. Then our friend Matthew Bain of the Press-Citizen set the record straight.
Tyler Cook, Dom Uhl and Christian Williams aren't playing tonight. All 3 have little tweaks, are day-to-day. https://t.co/VJf33KHOzt— Matthew Bain (@MatthewBain_) June 22, 2017
I’m sure it’s all nothing and truly just little things as indicated, but I would sure feel a lot better if they just said they couldn’t find rides or something. Worst case scenario: these little tweaks turn into nagging injuries that keep guys out of PTL, practice or even the Europe trip games. Best case scenario: everyone played it safe and wanted an excuse to avoid the drive to Waterloo. It’s Overreaction Monday and I would love to freak out, but I’m going with the latter scenario.
The next thing that stands out on the stat sheet is that nothing really stands out. A bunch of performances that would have been really good in Big Ten games but are just sort of meh in a summer league game. But we aren’t here for meh, we’re here for overreactions, so let me just go ahead and point out that the two leading scorers on Thursday were the two freshmen big men.
Jack Nunge led the way with 30 and garnered rave reviews from everyone who made the trek. Since yours truly isn’t venturing anywhere near Blackhawk county unless I’m headed north of the Iowa border, we turn again to Matthew Bain and his first-hand looks.
Good hesitation, drive and finish through contact here from Jack Nunge. pic.twitter.com/5ogXc7LCue— Matthew Bain (@MatthewBain_) June 23, 2017
Now, that wasn’t exactly Tyler Cook at the rim, but I love the fact that Iowa now has a 6’11” kid who feels comfortable enough with the rock in his hands to catch a pass at the top of the key, take a hesitation step, and accelerate all the way to the rack and finish through contact. I mean, that’s not something you ask a big man to do, but if he can do it, it opens up so many things on the floor. Add to that his shooting ability from deep, and Iowa fans have a lot to be excited about with Jack Nunge.
And oh hey look, he can do it in transition too!
Case in point on the Nunge tweet: Here he is finishing through contact on a fastbreak. (Also kinda sorta staring down his defender.) pic.twitter.com/NqpGwHc3gW— Matthew Bain (@MatthewBain_) June 23, 2017
I’m telling you, Nunge is going to be a damn good player for the Hawkeyes.
In other Iowa news from the PTL last Thursday, Ryan Kriener is showing off his jumper this summer. If you want to scroll back up to the stat sheet, I’ll wait here.
Back? Cool. Yeah, so Kriener didn’t light the world on fire or anything (14 boards is pretty solid though), but he put up 8 threes and hit 3 of them. Again, not lighting the world on fire, but that’s pretty solid from a guy who is supposed to spend most of his time inside 15 feet. And don’t look now, but he had a better shooting night from deep than Brady Ellingson.
Here’s a look at some of his highlights, as well as Jordan Bohannon’s.
On Sunday the state sheet looked a little more like what you hope for in a summer league. I’m just going to gently point out the leading scorer, again. Also note how steady Isaiah Moss has been in the upper 20s. 4-11 from deep is really nice from a guy who also possesses the ability to attack off the dribble. Kriener’s line looks basically like Thursday night. Dom Uhl appears to be alive and in a basketball uniform.
Brady Ellingson found his stroke. I truly hope the guy can do that all season. I’ve said before I fear he could become Josh Oglesby 2.0, but if he can knock down open looks and at least be proficient in team defense, he’s an asset to this roster. And holy rebounds, Luka Garza.
Sunday night PTL stats for the Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/ioPP8IZtPA— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) June 26, 2017
Tyler Cook’s stats weren’t exactly eye-popping, but that didn’t stop him from doing Tyler Cook things.
Tyler Cook rebounds, leads one-man fastbreak and gets very, very angry at the rim. pic.twitter.com/bI8qcJwTBq— Matthew Bain (@MatthewBain_) June 25, 2017
I don’t have a whole lot more to add at this point. This team is looking damn good and the two newcomers are putting on an absolute show. That’s not an overreaction, that’s the truth. I don’t know where they’ll finish in the Big Ten and I have no clue how many games they’ll win, but according to the stat sheet for Sunday this team will be scoring around 300 points a game. That seems like it should be enough to win a lot of games, even when adjusted for Wisconsin’s style of play.
On the topic of bright futures, a couple of, well I guess current Hawkeyes received honors from the Des Moines Register last week. Basketball and baseball freshman Connor McCaffery was named the All-Iowa Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
It still remains to be seen whether he’ll actually play basketball at Iowa given his prospects in baseball and the scholarship situation for his dad, but it’s certainly nice to know the Hawkeyes are in a position to not actually need Connor to play basketball this upcoming season, despite how talented he clearly is.
Fellow incoming freshman and future Hawkeye football star Tristan Wirfs took home top honors from the Des Moines Register as All-Iowa Boys Athlete of the Year.
You may recall Wirfs was an Army All-American and will be a mainstay on the Hawkeyes’ offensive line in the coming years. He’s also a stud on the wrestling mat and won about a million championships as a thrower on the track team at Mt. Vernon High School.
Cool stuff for both McCaffery and Wirfs.
Turning to football, it was a bit of a roller coaster toward the end of the week. You may have heard the staff was hosting a few events over the weekend, starting with some big time unofficial visits on Thursday. Most notably, Des Moines DE John Waggoner, who holds offers from a literal who’s who of college football programs, took a visit with his family to Iowa City. He’s been on campus a number of times before and is looking to make a decision at the end of next month. The Hawkeyes are still considered firmly in the mix
As good as Thursday looked, Friday was supposed to look better. Then we got word that before the classes of 2018 and 2019 were to grow, the class of 2017 was to shrink.
Daviyon Nixon, who signed with Iowa in February, is headed to Iowa Western Community College this year instead https://t.co/mYBFse5c4D— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) June 23, 2017
You may recall Nixon was a late addition to the class and looked like a beast of a defensive line prospect. The concern all along was academic and now the concern is a reality. It’s possible he ends up back in Iowa City, but the odds aren’t in his favor. After not qualifying at Iowa, he’ll need two years at Iowa Western before he’s eligible at a D-1 program. In those two years he’ll likely either fizzle out or prove to be a hot commodity come 2019. The Hawkeyes could remain involved in such a scenario, but history shows us most of the guys who end up going juco before they get to Iowa City don’t find their way back. The ones who come to Iowa and are forced to leave for a juco have a much better track record at returning.
Here’s hoping Nixon figures things out from an academic standpoint first and foremost. And if he can, hopefully he can also put together a solid football career and rejoin the Hawkeyes in 2019. Time will tell.
As for those classes of 2018 and 2019, the weekend was indeed pretty big. Friday and Saturday were spent hosting the first summer tailgater, where big groups of current commits and prospects with offers come on unofficial visits, but get the opportunity to essentially follow the script of an official visit, capped off with a barbecue with the staff and their fellow recruits.
In addition to a number of the current class of 2018 commits, Iowa hosted a slew of top prospects in both 2018 and 2019. There’s a full rundown to come, but the class of 2019 proved to have the biggest impact. On Saturday we saw a pair of 4-star recruits pledge to the Hawkeyes in 6’5” 225 lb TE Logan Lee and 6’6” 285 lb OL Tyler Endres. They join fellow 4-star commit Ezra Miller, making the entirety of the class of 2019 consensus 4-stars and all incredibly large human beings.
We’ve yet to see any of the 2018 visitors commit, but it’s early and I would suspect we’ll not only see a few of those, but also some additional 2019 commits who were in town this weekend. Iowa will follow this up with another tailgater geared towards that class of 2019 later in July.
The weekend was capped off with a camp on Sunday. There were a number of kids in town, but the headliner was Council Bluffs QB Max Duggan. Like Waggoner before him, Duggan has an offer sheet about a mile long and it includes almost every blueblood you can think of. Duggan is a class of 2019 prospect who may be hard to keep in state, but would certainly be a major coup in the world of recruiting given his hype.
And finally, sticking with the recruiting news, let’s talk about are dear friends to the east. Lovie Smith and his staff have gotten some heat of late for their “unique” approach to recruiting. The Illini have been notably slow in their process of evaluating and offering kids. While Iowa is also typically very diligent, they know what they like, they target it and they get heavily involved once they identify the talent they want. Illinois, on the other hand, has been slow at each of those things.
That all changed last week. In an apparent attempt to calm those concerns, they did a 180 and jumped the gun on an offer. By about 7 years. I just, I don’t even know what to say, Illinois.
Not to be outdone, the University of Nevada made some headlines only a couple days later:
Seriously, be thankful Iowa has a staff that legitimately does things the right way. We joke about it and we want to complain about the lack of stars from time to time, but I’ll take what we got any day over some of these staffs out there offering 10-year-olds or rowing some damned boat or claiming some conference championships from when they were at some D-2 program as if they were the same as a P5 struggle and calling them #ELITE. Every dog has his fleas, but at least our dog is smart, loyal and isn’t begging for table scraps constantly.
That’s all I got, people. The future is bright in Iowa City. Go out and have yourselves an elite week. Row your boat. Do whatever else these yahoos are saying. We’re a week away from a holiday week and things are looking up.