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Hoops Crootin’ Boogie: Top Options for Hawkeyes on Transfer Market

Iowa needs help on the perimeter. Hundreds of college players are looking for a new home. Is there a match made in Hawkeye Heaven?

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Iowa
With two scholarships opening up, Fran McCaffery and staff look to hail a couple of new players to fill the rides.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Spring is a time of change. A time for the snow to turn to rain, the dull, brown landscape to come to life with green. It’s also a time for college basketball players across the country to find new homes. We haven’t just entered the spring season, we’re officially in TRANSFER SZN.

As has become the norm over the last several years, March and April are now a feeding frenzy for college coaches and fans alike looking for hoopsters changing locations. Last year, more than 900 division 1 basketball players transferred. That’s more than 2.5 players per team. This year, there have already been nearly 300 announced and we aren’t even done with the season.

Iowa, of course, has seen the impacts already. Before the season kicked off guard Christian Williams announced his intention to depart. He’s since found a home at Indiana State. More recently guard Brady Ellingson announced his plans to be a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility somewhere in the 2018-2019 season. And forward Ahmad Wagner drew plenty of attention when he announced he would be hanging up the sneakers to try his hand at college football.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Iowa
The departure of Ahmad Wagner and Brady Ellingson clears the way for at least one new face on the Hawkeye roster in 2018-2019.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Those three departures put Iowa just over the 2.5 player average, but well below some of our peers. Pittsburgh, for example, has had 5 players depart. That’s not shocking given they lost every conference game this season and saw their head coach fired. Maine has one-upped them with 6 announced transfers to-date. And closer to home, Illinois has seen three announced transfers since the end of the season, as well as an underclassman enter the draft and there are rumors the departures aren’t done.

All this turnover around the country creates opportunity for players and teams alike. For Iowa, they are left with two open scholarships in the spring period where so many new faces are suddenly available to transfer. One of those spots will almost certainly go to RS freshman PG Connor McCaffery, who was previously walking on to give a scholarship to another player.

You can debate among yourselves the need of Connor to be on a scholarship. I’ll just say that a common criticism of Fran has been that his rotations run too deep. Having essentially 14 scholarship players on roster doesn’t help that criticism. And if Connor’s scholarship were to go to a player that’s any sort of a reach, I think that’s much more detrimental than using it on a player who would have otherwise been fine walking on.

NCAA Basketball: Southern Utah at Iowa
Connor McCaffery was granted his medical hardship waiver and now has four more years with the Hawkeyes. He should probably spend them on scholarship.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

With the current roster construction and the criticisms of last year’s team, I think it’s safe to say the lone scholarship available after giving one to Connor should go to a back court player. I think it’s also safe to say it should be used on a player who can help immediately - either a transfer, JUCO or still available high school prospect.

That last group is incredibly limited. There are some kids who committed and haven’t yet signed, but it’s a small group and there are typically reasons they haven’t signed. One possibility is a guy like Courtney Ramey. He’s a PG from Missouri that Iowa offered and would fill a major need for the Hawkeyes as a kid who can penetrate and defend the perimeter. But he’s a top 50 kid with offers from just about everyone and rumors swirling around why he is still available and leaning towards a place like Missouri or Louisville (where he was previously committed) over some other options. There is almost no chance he ends up at Iowa.

That second option, a JUCO player, has a lot more possibilities. But like the high school players, a number of the top options have already committed elsewhere. Additionally, bringing in a player for 2 years locks up a scholarship for 2019. Given some of the names Iowa is in on for that class, that may not be ideal. Grabbing a JUCO point guard, for example, to go along with Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery might help in 2018, but ultimately lead to a top target like DJ Carton choosing to go elsewhere. That’s not ideal.

Luckily, there are a number of immediately eligible perimeter players available on the transfer market. As of today, there are nearly 50 PG, SG and SF players who have announced their intention to transfer from a D1 school. Here’s a look at the list as it stands today according to Verbal Commits:

Immediately Eligible Backcourt Transfers

Stars Position Name Class Ht Wt Immediately Eligible Previous School
Stars Position Name Class Ht Wt Immediately Eligible Previous School
3 PG Austin, Jr. Larry RS JR 6-2 175 Yes Vanderbilt
2 SG Bathurst Wil SR 6-3 180 Yes Cornell
2 SG Bayer Braedon RS JR 6-4 185 Yes Syracuse
2 SF Branch Armani SR 6-6 205 Yes VMI
2 PG Calixte Aaron RS JR 5-11 175 Yes Maine
3.3 PG Campbell Tre SR 6-2 170 Yes Georgetown
2 SG Canady Major SR 6-4 215 Yes Drexel
2 SG Castlin Kyle RS JR 6-4 195 Yes Columbia
2 PG Chartouny Joseph JR 6-3 205 Yes Fordham
2 PG Chauca Brandon RS JR 5-9 160 Yes California
4 PG Coleman Justin RS JR 5-10 170 Yes Samford
2 PG Cunningham Mike RS JR 6-1 190 Yes USC Upstate
2.3 SG Davis Ar'Mond SR 6-6 190 Yes Alabama
2 SG Dixon Nat RS JR 6-4 173 Yes Chattanooga
2 SG Duffus Dondre SR 6-3 180 Yes Southeast Missouri State
2.7 SG Ellingson Brady RS JR 6-4 193 Yes Iowa
2 SG Floyd Joshua SR 6-3 185 Yes Savannah State
2 SG Harris Jontray RS JR 6-3 176 Yes Oral Roberts
2 PG Hicks Perris RS JR 6-1 180 Yes Fordham
2 SG Highsmith Dontel RS JR 6-2 200 Yes Cleveland State
2 PG Holden Kory RS JR 6-1 197 Yes South Carolina
2 SG Jefferson Jeremiah RS JR 6-2 165 Yes Jackson State
2 PG Johnson Taishaun RS JR 6-0 170 Yes Kent State
2 PG Johnson Torry RS JR 6-3 165 Yes Northern Arizona
2.5 SG Lavender Deion RS JR 6-2 190 Yes UAB
2.7 SF Luther Ryan SR 6-9 220 Yes Pittsburgh
2 SG Massey Jason SR 6-4 220 Yes Brown
2 SG Mills Alex RS JR 6-1 180 Yes North Carolina Central
2.3 SG Mosely Cheddi SR 6-3 190 Yes Boston University
2 SG Nehls Austin JR 6-3 185 Yes Central Connecticut State
3 PG Patterson Jalyn SR 6-1 185 Yes LSU
2.7 SG Reynolds Miles RS JR 6-2 170 Yes Pacific
2 SG Richardson Julian SR 6-3 180 Yes Cal State Northridge
2 PG Stallworth Lewis RS JR 6-1 187 Yes Texas–Rio Grande Valley
2 PG Stewart, Jr. Darryl RS JR 6-1 185 Yes New Hampshire
2 SG Taylor Otto FR 6-2 170 Yes Pacific
2 SG Taylor Ryan RS JR 6-6 195 Yes Evansville
2 PG Ugbaja Jiday SR 5-11 190 Yes Sacramento State
3 PG Vassar Johnnie SR 6-0 180 Yes Northwestern
2 PG Walker Jontrell RS JR 6-1 188 Yes Ball State
2 SG Wallace Andre SR 6-1 200 Yes South Dakota State
2 SG Wardlow Evan SR 6-4 185 Yes Santa Clara
2 PG Wilburn Tye SR 5-11 185 Yes Wright State
2 SG Woods Keyshawn RS JR 6-3 195 Yes Wake Forest
2.5 SG Wright Jake RS JR 6-4 203 Yes Miami (OH)

*Stars denotes the average star ranking from recruiting services as a high school prospect.

There are some interesting names on there. A few, like Ryan Taylor of Evansville, have had sensational careers at mid-majors and are now poised to jump up to high majors (Taylor averaged 21.2 points per game on 42% shooting from three this season). Guys like that have long lists of suitors the moment they announce their decision (Taylor, for example, has heard from UCLA, Arizona and a slew of others already).

Some others are intriguing because as high school prospects, they had offers from Iowa. That includes guys like Ryan Luther, who is more in the Fran mold of a stretch 3 (or 4) coming in at 6’9”. Luther is a grad transfer from Pitt who would have been in the same class as Dom Uhl. He missed 12 games last year due to a stress fracture in his foot and then had a stress reaction in the same foot this year, which caused him to miss all but 10 games. During those 10 games he played, however, he looked pretty good, averaging 12.7 points a game and leading the Panthers with 10.1 rebounds a game.

Larry Austin, Jr. is another former Iowa target. A 6’2” PG from Springfield, Illinois, Austin initially committed to Xavier over the Hawkeyes. He played two seasons in Cincinnati, never averaging more than 10 minutes or 2 points a game. In 2016-2017, he transferred to Vanderbilt and took a redshirt year for the Commodores. This past season he started 3 games and played in 23, averaging 11 minutes and 2.5 points a game. Now he’s looking for his third home.

Some of the less heralded guys who don’t really have an Iowa connection but may still show up on the Hawkeyes’ radar include Aaron Calixte of Maine, Tre Campbell of Georgetown, Joseph Chartouny of Fordham and Andre Wallace of South Dakota State. None of them lit the world on fire, but each had decent careers and fit a need for the Hawkeyes on the perimeter.

As the days pass and the season continues to change, so will the list above. Hundreds of names will be added as more players transfer and hundreds will be taken off as they find new homes. The speculation will run rampant and we’ll be here to pass along all the rumors floating around the winds of change.