The Iowa Hawkeyes may be right in the thick of a Big Ten West division title race with three regular season games left to go, but basketball season has already begun to take headlines away from the gridiron. That got underway earlier this week as both the Iowa men and women kicked off their seasons with home wins in the non-conference slate.
That continued on Wednesday as college basketball’s national signing day snuck into the fray. The Hawkeyes signed a pair of prospects in the class of 2024, both of which look primed to be big contributors in future years.
This comes on the heals of Iowa’s 41st ranked class of 2023 (per On3) that included 4-star Pryce Sandfort and 3-star prospects Owen Freeman, Brock Harding and Ladji Dembele. All four of those freshmen saw meaningful playing time in Iowa’s opener and all have looked the part early.
In the class of 2024, the Hawkeyes look to add more post depth as they are set to lose Valpo transfer big man Ben Krikke (who is currently using his COVID season at Iowa this year). Redshirt senior Patrick McCaffery could also choose not to use his COVID season while the transfer portal is always front of mind in today’s world.
Here’s a look at both of Iowa’s class of 2024 signings from this week.
The son of former Hawkeye JR Koch, Cooper is not quite as tall as his old man listed at just 6’7” but he is a very highly touted prospect out of Peoria, Illinois The Metamora product is likely to remind fans more of current Hawkeye Payton Sandfort than his father.
At 6’7” and 205, his build is similar to Sandfort, as is his shooting stroke. He has the size to post up smaller forwards but really excels with his face up game. He can knock it down from anywhere on the floor and has a well-developed repertoire of moves that should make him a day one contributor for the Hawkeyes. As a junior at Peoria Notre Dame last season, Koch averaged 18.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals while shooting 48% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc and 85% from the FT line.
He’s a top-75 prospect nationally according to virtually every recruiting service out there and chose the Hawkeyes over offers from Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Bradley and Western Illinois.
Welcome aboard, officially, Cooper Koch!
Cooper Koch, PF
Wt: 205 lbs
Hometown: Peoria, Illinois (Metamora)
Stars: On3 - 4; 247 Sports - 4; Rivals - 4
Iowa’s other commitment in the class of 2024 is similar to Koch is essentially one way: at 6’8” he projects as a forward for the Hawkeyes. Beyond that, Chris Tadjo has the perfect skillset to complement Cooper Koch.
The Montreal native has a Big Ten ready frame and the athleticism to be an immediate contributor. While he isn’t the face up shooter Koch is, he is adept with his back to the basket and brings a spring Iowa hasn’t had since Tyler Cook left for the NBA.
He’s regarded as one of the best rebounders in the class nationally, possessing a feel for where to be and the athleticism to go get the ball around or above opponents.
At 6’8” and 230 pounds, he has a great frame for a Big Ten power forward. But the frame is just the beginning. Tadjo brings elite level athleticism reminiscent of former Hawkeye Tyler Cook. He immediately jumps off the screen on video, penetrating through traffic and leaping head and shoulders above would-be defenders for emphatic dunks.
As an international prospect, Tadjo flew a bit under the radar and was unranked by both Rivals and 247 Sports when he first committed. He’s since added a 3-star rating from 247 Sports, but more notably he is ranked as the 66th best prospect nationally by On3, which is the only service to do an in-person evaluation.
Welcome aboard, officially, Chris Tadjo!
Chris Tadjo, PF
Wt: 230 lbs
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec (NBA Academy Latin America)
Stars: On3 - 4; Rivals - NR; 247 Sports - 3
Beyond Koch and Tadjo, look for the Hawkeyes to once again explore the transfer portal in the spring. Iowa loses senior Tony Perkins in addition to the aforementioned Mcaffery and Krikke, leaving them with one scholarship open. And of course, there is always the inevitability that at least one other current player will hit the portal.