While we're intently focused on the present of Iowa basketball and Fran is preparing for Iowa's NCAA Tournament game with Davidson on Friday, he's apparently also keeping one eye on the future -- a future which came into focus a bit more with yesterday's commitment from Class of 2015 recruit Christian Williams.
While Iowa already received written commitments from four Class of 2015 players in November, we knew that Iowa still had scholarships to work (as a result of Kyle Meyer and Trey Dickerson opting to transfer away from Iowa) with for this class. We also knew -- or thought we knew -- what Iowa was looking for with those available scholarships; namely, a point guard and/or a power forward/center. Iowa's size is an advantage now, but with Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni graduating after this season, Iowa's depth chart is going to take a big hit in the big department -- and none of the current recruits are ideally suited to fill that void. Similarly, Dickerson's departure leaves Iowa with no established or incoming point guard depth beyond Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons, both of whom will be seniors next season.
Williams is definitely not a big (he's listed at 6-5, 180 lbs) and he's not considered a point guard, either -- rather, he's a combo guard who played point guard, shooting guard, and small forward for his high school team, Decatur St. Teresa, which makes his recruitment somewhat peculiar. Williams, a 3* recruit per Rivals (and unranked per Scout, ESPN, and 247), listed no other major conference schools among his offers (which included Bradley, Green Bay, Illinois State, and Saint Louis), although there were reports of "interest" from the likes of Minnesota and Illinois. Williams missed part of the season due to an eligibility snafu (that resulted from him moving between schools, not anything grade-related), but still managed to average 19.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, and 3.3 apg as he earned first-team all-state honors and led St. Teresa to a runner-up finish in the Illinois state playoffs last weekend.
There aren't a lot of highlights of Williams available on the internet. Here are some junior year highlights:
And here are some highlights from an AAU event last summer:
And at least we know his 3/4 court shot game is on point:
What makes Williams' recruitment so odd is that he appears to be a lean, fairly rangy wing player -- and Iowa added three players like that (Isaiah Moss, Brandon Hutton, and Ahmad Wagner) in this recruiting class already. It's hard to see exactly where Williams fits in that mix. It's possible that Fran sees more of a point guard in him than the rest of us (or any experts) or that he sees shades of Devyn Marble, another unconventional point guard-type who managed to do very well in the point guard role (though it took time for him to get there) for Iowa, in Williams.
Fran has certainly done a good job of identifying and developing talent during his tenure at Iowa -- particularly under the radar talent (see: Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Gabe Olaseni...) -- so we're inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, Williams' similarity to several of Iowa's other recent recruits* is still a head-scratcher (I think I'd feel a little better about his recruitment, middling offer sheet and all, if he was more of a true point guard, if only because that move would make sense) and Williams looks like the type that's going to need to spend a fair amount of time in the incubator before he's ready to go. That may not be a huge issue next season (he'll presumably redshirt while Gesell, Clemmons, Jok, And Ellingson man the backcourt spots), but it could put a lot of pressure on him to be ready by 2016-17.
*Alternate theory: Fran is trying to assemble wing player Voltron by bringing in all these rangy, long-armed, quick 6-5 to 6-7 guys. Joking aside, the way Fran is assembling the future pieces of this roster is very intriguing and points the way toward a potentially very different-looking Iowa team in a year or two. But that's probably a topic to dig into in greater depth in a few weeks, after the NCAA Tournament is over.