Bettendorf class of 2019 point guard DJ Carton is a tremendous talent. He is up to 17th in the nation according to Rivals, which makes him the highest rated recruit the state of Iowa has produced since Harrison Barnes was rated as the 2nd best player in the country back in 2010. He’s also the highest rated point guard from the state since the inception of the Rivals database in 2002.
On the court, Carton brings just about everything you could ask for. He’s quick with the ability to take his defender off the dribble and get to the rim almost at will. At the rim, he can get up and finish with authority through contact. None of that comes at the expense of his outside shot, which is great. He’s got solid size at north of 6’ and has length and quickness to be a very good on-ball defender.
“I pop like I got it, I’m holding my weight” ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/yVyZtp1cAj— DJ Carton (@DJCarton) June 21, 2018
In short, DJ Carton is what you expect a 5-star point guard destined for McDonald’s All-America status to be. And he’s exactly what Iowa fans are dreaming of to fill out the class of 2019 and set the Hawkeyes back on the course we thought they were on two years ago. Were he to play his college games in Iowa City, Carton would mark the 6th top-120 recruit nationally for Fran McCaffery in 3 years and the third top-50 (OK, technically 51 as of a week ago) recruit in 2 years. He is a potential program-changer.
Unfortunately, DJ Carton won’t be playing his college basketball in Iowa City. At least not more than one game a year. Today, Carton narrowed his list of college choices from 6 to 3, and the Hawkeyes are officially on the outside looking in.
With the incredible trajectory of his recruitment, Carton has been considered a relative long-shot for a bit now, but the conventional wisdom had been his final landing place would be a college basketball blueblood. Those offers may still come, but Iowa has been cut ahead of that time. Instead, Carton is currently only considering a trio of fellow Big Ten foes: Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State. Iowa was eliminated, along with Marquette and Xavier.
Losing Carton to a Big Ten opponent stings not only because the Hawkeyes will have to face off with Carton anywhere from 1-3 times each season he’s in college, but because of the message it sends. Having top level in-state talent spurn Iowa isn’t a new phenomenon, but historically the Hawkeyes have lost such talent to bluebloods like Kansas or North Carolina. Having a player the caliber of Carton choose a school like Michigan or Indiana or Ohio State is a different story. Regardless of the level of recent success at a school like Michigan (which is remarkable and John Beilein is no doubt a tremendous coach worthy of your respect) or the history of a school like Indiana that has fallen on relatively difficult times, the distance between those programs and Iowa is no doubt shorter than the distance between Iowa and the Kentucky’s of the world.
There’s no way to spin it, this stings for Fran and for Iowa.
So where do the Hawkeyes turn now? That remains to be seen. As with years past, McCaffery seems to have put all his eggs in one basket. Carton was the staff’s one and only priority beyond cementing Pat McCaffery. Some of the contingency plans like Tyrell Terry and Tyreke Locure have already committed (to Stanford and South Alabama, respectively). Finding another option at this stage will be difficult and there will obviously be a large dropoff in talent from a top-20 kid to whoever they end up with.
They could obviously just hold the opening for another year or turn away from the PG spot in this class. That will do little to quiet the segment of the fanbase who’s yearning for another PG on the roster, but it’s plausible with a healthy combination of Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery, as well as competent ballhandlers in Joe Wieskamp, CJ Fredrick, Maishe Dailey and Isaiah Moss.
Those guys would suffice as Iowa looks to get back on track and back to the NCAA Tournament. They’ll have to. But none of them are the caliber PG of DJ Carton. One of them is going to have to guard him.