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This is the offseason for Fran McCaffery to go in on a transfer

The Hawkeyes have a chance to elevate on a good 2018-19 campaign

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Columbus Practice Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The first shoe has dropped with Maishe Dailey’s transfer out of the Iowa Hawkeye program. There may be more to follow, as Tyler Cook and Isaiah Moss figure to test the NBA Draft waters once again.

No matter what, the Iowa Hawkeyes are going to have a deep roster for the 2019-2020 season. Even if both leave, it looks something like:

Scholarship Chart without Cook & Moss

Position Sr. Jr. So. Fr.
Position Sr. Jr. So. Fr.
Guards Jordan Bohannon - Connor McCaffery C.J. Fredrick; Joe Toussaint
Wings - - Joe Wieskamp Patrick McCaffery
Bigs Ryan Kriener Cordell Pemsl; Luka Garza Jack Nunge -

That’s still 55.5% of Iowa’s minutes returning from this year (would rank 110th in KenPom’s minutes continuity this year - $) from a roster which ranked as the 7th most experienced in the conference. Those numbers would go up significantly if Cook, Moss, or both returned. It doesn’t even account for the minutes logged by Cordell Pemsl or Jack Nunge, two mid-career redshirts. With no recruits committed for the 2020 offseason yet, now is the right time for Fran to look hard at adding a transfer or two.

What if no one else leaves?

If both Cook and Moss return – big if, but the current truth – then it means Iowa is loaded with experienced talent. It also lessens the need for Patrick McCaffery to come in and contribute immediately. This would provide him even more runway to gain the necessary weight the correct way. In this scenario of Pat taking a redshirt while C.J. Fredrick and Joe Toussaint become available, there’s a case to be made for Connor McCaffery to focus 100% on baseball during his third year on campus to understand his standing as an MLB prospect.

Iowa still has 10 bodies, so the need for a ready-made player is not there. However, Fran would be able to bring in a transfer without any maneuvering of scholarships. Should the Hawks land a second transfer, Fran could shift one of Connor or Pat off scholarship. This would allow Iowa to take a swing on a Marial Shayok-type player who had two years to play one for the Iowa State Cyclones.

Iowa would be able to bridge the developmental gap we’ve seen Iowa struggle with between talent-loaded classes. One who lines up with the sophomore or junior class listed above would balance the scholarships since Iowa would lose 4 seniors after the 2020 season should Cook and Moss return.

How about if people leave?

Given the roles Cook and Moss played for the Hawkeyes as 3-year starters, either would be a huge loss. While Iowa should still be able to manage with the hay they have in the barn, it would still mean the loss of Iowa’s most athletic player in TC and an elite three-point shooter in Moss. I suspect we wouldn’t realize how much they’d be missed until they were gone, plying their trade elsewhere.

Enter the grad transfer.

Iowa has already reached out to one, per 247Sports, in Akron’s Daniel Utomi. While a number of high-end programs have also made contact with him, the Hawkeyes’ involvement show they are in the market for talent. For the Zips, he was aligned as a power forward by KenPom’s algorithm ($). Yet, as a 6’6” 215-lb one with a 37.1% 3-point percentage with more makes than any Hawkeye this year, he could play a similar offensive role as the departing Nicholas Baer as an off-the-bench spark plug at the 3 or 4. As a part of a top 25 defense, he would understand what is needed to help elevate Iowa on that side of the ball.

While Utomi is just one example, a grad transfer of his ilk would limit the risk of putting too much youth on the floor in what figures to be a high leverage season for Fran McCaffery.

While I postulated the 2018-19 finish provided hope that the best might be ahead for the program under McCaffery, an effort in the transfer market – grad or otherwise – would demonstrate Fran knows now is the time to elevate the ceiling of Hawkeye basketball.