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Hoops Crootin’ Boogie: Hawkeye Scholarship Situation Entering 2018-2019 Season

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The Hawkeyes aren’t replacing much from last year’s group, but the same can’t be said over the next couple seasons.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Iowa
Fran McCaffery is going to have a lot of scholarships to fill over the next couple years. What’s he going to do to restock the cupboards?
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Since gaining a verbal commitment from the long-sought point guard recruit in New York native Joe Toussaint back in September, things have been relatively quiet on the recruiting front for the Hawkeyes. As we begin to think about the upcoming basketball season (we’re less than two weeks out!), it’s a great time to explore why things have been so quiet and what might be upcoming for Fran McCaffery and staff.

The Hawkeyes enter the 2018-2019 season with only twelve players on scholarship - one shy of the NCAA limit of 13. They return all five starters from a season ago, as well as a plethora of bench players.

The only departures from last year’s team are forwards Ahmad Wagner and Dom Uhl and guard Brady Ellingsen. Those scholarships have been filled for this season with incoming freshmen Joe Wieskamp and CJ Frederick, both of whom are guards, and point guard Connor McCaffery, who spent last season as a walk-on taking a redshirt due to injury.

As we look ahead to the next recruiting class, the Hawkeyes project to have two scholarships available. The first is the one currently sitting vacant. The second is the result of Nicholas Baer departing due to graduation. But each of those spots is already spoken for. The aforementioned Toussaint takes one and McCaffery’s second son, Pat, is verbally committed to fill the second.

So that’s that for next year, right? Two open spots, to spots filled? Not so fast, my friends. Fran has a lot of flexibility for next season thanks to his two sons filling scholarships. Either or both of them could move off of scholarship and into a walk on role if the right player were to become a viable option. Then there’s the case of Tyler Cook.

Cook notably tested the NBA Draft waters a season ago, only to return for a junior season at Iowa. It seems highly likely that he will again test those waters following this season and ultimately decide not to return. That would open a third scholarship for the class of 2019 without the need for either McCaffery son to walk on.

It would also help to balance the classes just a bit and avoid a potentially massive recruiting year in 2020, when the Hawkeyes are currently slated to lose 6 scholarship players to graduation.

Iowa Basketball Scholarship Distribution

POS SR JR SO FR Total 2019 COMMITS
POS SR JR SO FR Total 2019 COMMITS
PG -- JORDAN BOHANNON -- CONNOR MCCAFFERY* 2 JOE TOUSSAINT
SG -- ISAIAH MOSS* MAISHE DAILEY -- JOE WIESKAMP CJ FREDRICK 4
SF NICHOLAS BAER CORDELL PEMSL -- -- 2 PAT MCCAFFERY
PF -- TYLER COOK JACK NUNGE -- 2
C -- RYAN KRIENER LUKA GARZA -- 2
Total 1 6 2 3 12

With that much turnover in a single season, it’s no wonder Fran and staff seem to have already begun shifting their focus from 2019 to 2020.

Not that the staff hasn’t been working to find potential fits in 2019 should Cook leave early, they certainly have. But they’ve been primarily focused on big fish like 5-stars Trayce Jackson-Davis, Keion Brooks and Jeremiah Robinson Earl. And to their credit, they’ve been included in a number of lists trimmed to 5 or 6, but have also been eliminated by the time those lists are trimmed to a top 3.

Thus, the attention has really shifted to 2020. The primary recipient of said attention has been local product Xavier Foster. The 5-star big man is naturally garnering national attention and keeping him home with the likes of Kansas, UCLA and a slew of others knocking on his door will be difficult.

Foster isn’t alone in the class of 2020, however. The staff has been quite busy, offering a total of 25 uncommitted players in the class according to Rivals.com.

Class of 2020 Scholarship Offers

NAME POS STARS HT WT HOMETOWN POS RANK
NAME POS STARS HT WT HOMETOWN POS RANK
Isaiah Jackson PF 5 6'8" 180 Geneva, OH 3
Xavier Foster PF 4 6'10" 210 Oskaloosa, IA 5
Dawson Garcia PF 4 6'10" 200 Savage, MN 6
Ben Carlson PF 4 6'9" 205 Woodbury, MN 9
Jamari Sibley PF 4 6'9" 180 Milwaukee, WI 19
Shon Robinson PF 3 6'9" 185 Gilbert, AZ 29
Hunter Dickinson C 5 7'1" 220 Hyattsville, MD 3
Dain Dainja C 4 6'8" 230 Brooklyn Park, MN 6
Jalen Suggs PG 5 6'3" 180 Minneapolis, MN 3
Caleb Love PG 4 6'3" 175 St. Louis, MO 6
Jalen Terry PG 4 5'11" 155 Flint, MI 8
Ethan Morton PG 4 6'5" 180 Butler, PA 11
Tyler Beard PG 4 6'1" 175 Chicago, IL 13
Lynn Greer III PG 4 6'1" 160 Philadelphia , PA 20
L.J. Cryer PG 4 6'0" 165 Katy, TX 21
Ty Berry PG 3 6'4" 180 Newton, KS 25
Chanse Robinson PG 3 6'0" 165 Grambling, LA 26
Desmond Polk PG 3 6'3" 170 La Porte, IN 28
Zach Harvey SG 4 6'5" 185 Napa, CA 9
Bryce Thompson SG 4 6'4" 170 Tulsa, OK 19
Anthony Leal SG 4 6'4" 185 Bloomington, IN 20
Trey Galloway SG 3 6'3" 180 Culver, IN 31
Jalen Johnson SF 5 6'8" 220 Glendale, WI 2
Andre Jackson SF 4 6'6" 190 Albany, NY 12
Cam'Ron Fletcher SF 4 6'5" 175 St. Louis, MO 14

The list runs the gamut, as you you would expect in a class where the team is losing a player at every position and a pair of shooting guards. However, there are clearly more offers to point guards and power forwards than any other position. That makes sense knowing that despite being listed at three different positions, Cordell Pemsl, Tyler Cook and Ryan Kriener all essentially play the same position. And point guard should always be a top priority for Fran, especially with the possibility Connor chooses to pursue his baseball career.

Beyond the offers listed by Rivals, Fran has been busy with a number of both 2020 and 2021 recruits visiting for fall football games, including a handful for homecoming last week. Several of those visitors have left with offers.

That includes 2020 PG Lorne Bowman of Michigan, who is not reported as having an offer by Rivals, but is also unranked by the service. In addition, Fran and Co. extended offers to a pair of 2021 guards. Julian Roper is also a point guard from Michigan in the class of 2021, while Goode is a shooting guard from Indiana in the class.

It’s clear Fran is casting a wide net, and rightfully so given he’ll have to replace more than half his roster in two recruiting classes. Beyond the prep players on and off the radar at the moment, look for the staff to supplement with transfers and junior college players as potential tools to re-stock the cupboards more quickly and regain some balance in the classes.

Things will become more clear following this season when we learn the fate of Tyler Cook. That will likely guide where Fran looks for additional scholarship players potentially in the class of 2019. The net in 2020 will only continue to cast wider as that big class nears their graduation.