Relive all the best moments of the NCAA First and Second Rounds in Des Moines The Des Moines Register
Welcome back to the recruiting mailbag, friends.
We return to NCAA Tournament action tomorrow, so allow me to help distract you from basketball withdrawals for at least a couple minutes.
(By the way, a great remedy for this egregious lack of hoops? Binge something on Netflix. It's no Sweet 16 action, but it'll do.)
Let's get to the questions.
What do people see in Xavier Foster? — Jaden A.
Short answer: A lot.
Several people asked this question after the Iowa boys' basketball state tournament, during which, statistically, Oskaloosa's five-star forward didn't melt opponents' faces off. He averaged 13 points, 10.7 rebounds and four blocks in the Indians' three games.
And I get it. In today's social media-crazed recruiting world, where talents like Zion Williamson are king, some folks prioritize eye-popping numbers and highlight-reel dunks that make the rounds on Twitter.
But, to the arm-chair scouts out there, I assure you that coaches at Iowa, Iowa State, USC and the many other schools interested in Foster know what they're doing.
► No one covers Iowa recruits like the Register. Don’t miss a moment. Subscribe now.
Because, truth is, you can't measure a player's impact solely based on how many points he or she scores. Especially in Iowa, where there is no shot clock and a state title game had a halftime score of, gulp, 14-6.
(That isn't a typo.)
Ask any Iowa high school or AAU coach about Foster and they'll tell you all about his impact.
Shoot, if you want gaudy numbers, look at Foster's 148 blocks, which would have been sixth-most among entire teams in the state this year. And that figure doesn't measure the countless times Foster altered a shot, or when his presence kept a team from even attempting to score in the paint.
When considering a prospect's stock, you also have to factor in potential as much as production. And Foster is someone whose potential is arguably more intriguing than his production. He is by no means a finished product. Not close. Yeah, he's great now, but part of what makes evaluators so excited about him is projecting what he could be in two, three years — when he fills out his frame and taps into his full athletic potential.
As a high school junior, Foster is a 7-foot rim protector who has shown the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, who has a solid handle for his size and who has good defensive instincts. There are times you'd like to see him take control down low more often, but that will come as he fills in his frame. His free throws will improve over time, too.
He also runs the floor well. That's harder to see in a high school setting. But go watch him in an open gym or AAU game, and you'll see that he's an athlete in a 7-foot body.
So, this was all a long-winded way of saying: Trust the college coaches on this one.
Iowa State lost because it’s offense wasn’t good. It was stagnant, there was little ball movement and Ohio State was tough under the basket Des Moines Register
How do potential NBA departures from the Cyclones' roster impact recruiting? — @ted_rood
It mostly just slows things down.
Think about it: As a coach, you can be pretty confident you'll have a scholarship open up in the offseason. We saw that with the Cyclones in February, when they extended offers to 2019 guards Harlond Beverly and Clarence Nadolny — even though there technically wasn't an open slot yet.
But, obviously, you can't close the deal until you know, and the kid knows, there's an available scholarship.
This is not uncommon. Prospects who have extended their recruitments to this point know how the game works. They know they may need to see how offseason attrition affects the schools pursuing them.
In Iowa State's case, coaches don't need to wait on Lindell Wigginton, Talen Horton-Tucker or Tyrese Haliburton to make an NBA decision. Cam Lard confirmed to reporters Tuesday that he intends to transfer from Iowa State, which gives the Cyclones an open 2019 scholarship.
Now, the question is: Will there be only one?
Of note: Nadolny included Iowa State alongside Texas Tech and West Virginia in his final three, which he released Wednesday morning.
Would you say Cole Henry has a similar game to Luke McDonnell? — @Grandl21
I'd say Northern Iowa signee Cole Henry and current Panther Luke McDonnell actually differ more than you might think.
They both have good height and length — McDonnell is 6-9 and Henry is 6-10. But Henry's frame is sturdier than McDonnell's was coming out of high school.
The Oskaloosa product is more of a physical, bruising presence down low. He will be a hog on the boards and score plenty within 6 feet. McDonnell is more of a crafty, inside/outside big who can shoot the 3 and fits the stretch forward bill.
And, because of those differences, it's not hard to imagine a lineup where Henry and McDonnell could play at the same time, especially thanks to Henry's passing ability.
Henry averaged 19.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists this year en route to a spot on the Register's All Iowa Class 3A First Team. He shot 65.2 percent on 2-pointers, 0 percent (0-for-10) on 3-pointers and 36.7 percent (36-for-97) on free throws.
So, there's plenty to work on. He doesn't need to drain 3s, but his game would benefit greatly from a midrange shot. That, and an improved stroke from the charity stripe.
► UPDATES IN YOUR INBOX: Get updates with our recruiting newsletter
Does Iowa have any available scholarships and will they look at grad transfers or JUCO for depth? — @ArbyNiar
As of right now, Iowa doesn't have any available 2019 scholarships. We should soon learn whether Tyler Cook will declare for the NBA Draft. If he does declare, that opens a scholarship.
There's also no guarantee a scholarship doesn't open via other means, such as a transfer. We just saw that with Lard and Iowa State.
Part of a coach's job is to maintain relationships with prospects to be prepared in cases of offseason attrition. But if the Hawkeyes do have an opening, I'm not sure I would bank on them pursuing a transfer, given Fran McCaffery's track record in Iowa City. Of course, never say never.
There is still a handful of solid-to-great 2019 high school products still out there.
Remember, Iowa didn't land Maishe Dailey until May of his senior year.
Is Iowa still recruiting Michael Moreno for this year's class? — @aaronlyons24
I spoke briefly with Michael Moreno, a three-star forward out of Kentucky, on Tuesday and he said he hasn't heard from the Hawkeyes since prior to the season. He reported an offer from Iowa last May, but that recruitment didn't garner much steam.
A 6-6 athlete ranked the class' No. 196 prospect by the 247Sports Composite, Moreno told me Wofford, Eastern Kentucky and Evansville are the schools recruiting him the hardest right now.
Any news on who Drake may be looking at to fill the last scholarship spot now that Jonah Jackson has committed? I’m sure things hinge on Norton news. — @sdvickery
You hit it on the head. There's not much new here, and there won't be until Drake finds out whether Nick Norton will be granted a medical hardship waiver and allowed to play one more season of college basketball.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.