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Hoops Crootin’ Boogie: Hawkeyes Look to Fill Class of 2019

With a four-star local product already in the fold, where will the Hawkeyes look to fill the remaining openings in the class of 2019?

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Iowa
After losing out on local product DJ Carton, Fran and staff look for answers in 2019.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

As Hawkeye fans turn their attention to the upcoming football season and all the buzz surrounding fall camp, the Iowa basketball staff has quietly been plugging along, working to fill out the recruiting class of 2019.

As it stands, there are slated to be at least two scholarship openings in the class.

Following this season, Iowa will lose senior Nicholas Baer to graduation. The Hawkeyes are already sitting one spot under the limit of 13 scholarship players with the offseason departures of Ahmad Wagner and Brady Ellingson. And given Tyler Cook’s flirtations with the NBA this offseason, it’s more a probability than a possibility he departs after the 2018-2019 season. That would leave three scholarships open for the taking.

One of those openings is spoken for with four-star forward Patrick McCaffery - the second of coach Fran McCaffery’s sons to pledge to Iowa. The focus with the other openings has been split to this point with Fran spending a fair amount of time big game hunting.

Focus on Bigs

Early offers went almost exclusively to 4- and 5-star players from around the country. The focus was on big men, much to the chagrin of Hawkeye fans. But given the departure of Wagner, upcoming departure of Baer and probable departure of Cook, there will be a need for another big on the horizon. Iowa will likely enter the 2019-2020 season with Cordell Pemsl, Ryan Kriener, Jack Nunge and Luka Garza as the remaining bigs. Two of those will be gone after that season, leaving only a pair of seniors. Time to start restocking the cupboards.

Right near the top of that list has been five-star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana.

Name: Trayce Jackson-Davis
Position: PF
HT: 6’9”
WT: 210
Hometown: Greenwood, IN (Center Grove)
Stars: 247Sports - 5 Rivals - 5

While it may seem like a long shot, and it probably is, there seems to be some mutual interest with TJD, who recently released a top six school list which included the Hawkeyes.

That’s some stiff competition and the home state Indiana will be tough to beat, but being in the conversation can’t be a bad thing. Jackson-Davis will be officially visiting the Hawkeyes on September 7th, the weekend of the Iowa State football matchup.

Other names to know in the front court include Matthew Hurt, Keion Brooks and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Hurt’s a 5-star forward from Rochester, Minn. and plays on the same AAU team as former 2019 PG target Tyrell Terry, 2020 PG target Jalen Suggs and 2019 commit Patrick McCaffery.

Brooks is a bit shorter at 6’7”, but is springy and plays above the rim. He’s a Fort Wayne, Indiana native and is also a 5-star. Brooks has shot up the rankings into the top 20 nationally, but has had a relationship with Iowa for some time. The competition will be stiff, as with all these guys, but he visited Iowa City in June and seemed to enjoy himself.

Robinson-Earl is another guy the Hawkeyes have been in contact with for some time. Like Brooks, he’s been on campus previously. At 6’9” and 235 lbs, he may be the most physically ready of the names here despite being less athletic than a guy like Brooks. He’s got offers from a virtual “who’s who” of college basketball and it will be tough to pry him from the bluebloods.

Quest for a Point Guard

While Fran’s early focus in 2019 seemed to be on the front court, Hawkeye fans have long been clamoring for help in the back court. Specifically, fans want a point guard. As we got into the summer, it looked like maybe there was a perfect fit in our own back yard.

Alas, DJ Carton jumped from relative unknown nationally to a 5-star prospect with offers from the Big Ten’s elite and interest from traditional bluebloods. The Hawkeyes stayed in the hunt for a while, but when he finally trimmed his list to 3, Iowa was eliminated. Carton is now headed for Ohio State and the Hawkeyes are back on the trail.

Things were quiet for some time after Carton spurned Fran, but while the silence struck many as a sign the staff was OK not taking a point guard in the class, it may have just been an indicator they were regrouping and evaluating talent. As the AAU circuit played out and the summer has begun to wind down, the Hawkeyes have extended a flurry of offers to 2019 point guards.

Name: Bryan “BJ” Greenlee
Position: PG
HT: 6’0”
WT: 175
Hometown: Gainesville, FL (The Rock School)
Stars: 247Sports - NR Rivals - NR

Among the trio of PG offers to go out at the end of July was one to Bryan “BJ” Greenlee. Greenlee, to this point, has been a bit of an under the radar guy. His other offers have come from Arkansas State and Moorehead State. He doesn’t have a star rating on any of the major recruiting services (they can’t even agree on his height) and it’s not a name most Hawkeye fans have heard of.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t play. Turn on the film and what you see is perhaps the most complete offensive game of the three offers that were extended. Greenlee has decent size at somewhere between 6’0” and 6’3” depending on which service you want to believe, that’s plenty big for a PG. And he can knock down the outside shot. So far, he sounds like basically every other PG Fran has ever recruited.

Beyond the three point shooting, though, Greenlee has a bit better quickness than we see from a guy like Jordan Bohannon. He certainly isn’t the quickest of the offers, but he is able to get into the lane and finish through contact. He has a solid frame and big build to allow him to absorb blows at the rim. He also shows solid defense. All things Iowa should be looking for.

While he’s clearly a step down from the initial target, Carton, let’s face it, just about everyone in the country is. He put up 16 and 6 a game last year at The Rock School in Gainesville, Florida. The Hawkeye offer was Greenlee’s first P5 offer and he seems excited. He plans to make it to Iowa City for a visit in the fall.

Name: Yuri Collins
Position: PG
HT: 5’11”
WT: 165
Hometown: St. Louis, MO (Saint Mary’s)
Stars: 247Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

Like Greenlee, Yuri Collins is a bit of an under the radar name. He doesn’t boast a big offer list (only three with Iowa now in the mix), but unlike Greenlee, he does have another P5 offer (Mizzou).

Collins is a 3-star PG according to both Rivals and 247 Sports. He doesn’t have the same big body that Greenlee does as he stands just 5’11” and 165 pounds, but he is a quicker athlete. When you take a look at the film, the quickness and ballhandling are what jump out. He doesn’t show quite the same stroke or volume of makes from beyond the arc, but it’s solid and he appears to effortlessly get by his defender in a way that nobody on the current Iowa roster can.

While the Hawkeyes haven’t been in on Collins for long, he told HawkeyeNation he’s been following Iowa since fellow St. Louis native Tyler Cook arrived on campus. He doesn’t yet have a visit planned to Iowa City, but does intend to make it to town at some point.

Name: Joe Toussaint
Position: PG
HT: 5’10”
WT: 170
Hometown: Bronx, NY (Cardinal Hayes)
Stars: 247Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

The final of the three point guard offers to go out in July is perhaps the most intriguing one. Joe Toussaint is essentially everything Iowa fans have been clamoring for in a point guard. The Bronx native is cat-quick and shows a tremendous ability to get by his defender and attack the rim. He’s the smallest of the three at only 5’10”, but he plays with toughness and through contact.

His outside shot doesn’t show up much on film. It’s hard to tell if that’s because it isn’t good or if he just doesn’t have the need for it given his ability to get into the lane. But it doesn’t end with his quickness and ballhandling. Toussaint is a plus defender who brings something in the ability to stop quicker guards that Iowa is sorely lacking.

The combination of attributes is why Toussaint is the most highly-recruited of the three offers, even if he’s still under the radar in the traditional sense. He’s a 3-star by both Rivals and 247 Sports, but does boast 8 total offers. Most are from mid-majors, but that includes the likes of Dayton, who Iowa has seen first-hand can present problems in the backcourt.

In an interview with HawkCentral, Toussaint’s high school coach told Matthew Bain the following:

“He’s a bulldog of a guard. He can shoot the ball. He’s got terrific handle. You can’t stay in front of him. He’s so tough. When big guys are coming down the lane, he steps in and takes a charge. He’s got so much heart. He’s just such a winning player. He makes the extra pass. He’s a quiet kid. He’s just a worker. There’s never any BS in him. He has a goal, and he’s trying to get there.”

Sign me up.

Toussaint doesn’t have anything on the books yet, but plans to make a visit to Iowa City in late August.

While the three guards recently offered are all a bit under the radar and not nearly as highly recruited as DJ Carton, they each bring something currently missing from the Iowa roster. Each would be a welcome addition. At this point, it’s likely the Hawkeyes would only take one commitment. The first to make a decision may be the one to end up in Iowa City.