Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery finally closed out his 2015-16 recruiting class Monday with the commitment of Tyler (Tex.) Community College forward Dale Jones. The 6'8, 220-lb. power forward is unranked by most of the recruiting sites -- 247 gave him a cursory two-star ranking when Iowa offered -- but had been pursued by Minnesota. He was in Iowa City this past weekend for an official visit, and apparently signed a letter of intent before leaving.
Jones originally graduated from Waterloo West in 2012 at about 6'5 and 200 pounds. He didn't draw much recruiting interest as an undersized power forward, even though he averaged a double-double as a senior and could clearly jump.
Three years -- and three crucial inches -- later, Jones has finished a sophomore season where he averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for a better-than-average JUCO program. Jones contributed as a freshman in 2012-13, then sat out his first sophomore year with an injury. When he returned, he shot 45 percent from three, making more shots from behind the arc than any two Iowa players did this season. He also made 84 percent from the free throw line. And while the level of competition is about to go up considerably for Jones, those two skills translate just about anywhere. He is capable of being the true "stretch four" that Iowa wanted Aaron White to become, and it's not difficult to see what Iowa will do with Jones on offense: Set picks and make treys.
Speculation was that Iowa had hoped to grab Jones' Tyler teammate, center Ikenna Okwarabize, for next year's class, but Okwarabize (another former Iowa high school student) committed to UCLA Sunday. Tyler's two best prospects splitting between Iowa and [NAME REDACTED] highlights Iowa's connection to that program, though. The Hawkeyes got guard Justin Johnson from Tyler in 2006. Center Kurt Looby was a Tyler transfer in 2005, as well. Even if Iowa didn't hit the double on the current Tyler front line, establishing a relationship to the school isn't the worst thing that has ever happened.
There is one other benefit of the Jones commitment: It moves a scholarship up two years in the plan, making it unlikely that Iowa will again have to bring in a huge class in the near future. As it stands, Jones is the sixth commitment in the 2015-16 class, the sort of class that could make or break a program like Iowa's. Instead, the Hawkeyes should get an immediate contributor and an extra open scholarship for an otherwise-small class in 2017-18.