Recruiting Mailbag: Latest with AJ Green? How JJ Kohl's commitment affects Kai Black
Hello, friends. Welcome, once again, to the Recruiting Mailbag.
Let's start off this week by doing a shameless plug for Cody Goodwin's 2022 Mock NFL Draft using only Iowa high school football players. That's right. It's a full, 32-pick mock draft, with the same draft order you'll see in the actual NFL Draft tonight.
Who went first overall?
Who was the first quarterback taken?
Which school had the most selections?
Cody had a lot of fun with it, and I think you'll enjoy reading it, too.
Anyway. Remember that former Oskaloosa and Iowa State forward Xavier Foster has his official visit to SMU this weekend. No other visits are currently planned.
Now, let's get to this week's questions, which focus on the latest with AJ Green, how JJ Kohl's Iowa State commitment could affect Kai Black, more Cyclones transfer portal talk and the emergence of in-state football must-have Kooper Ebel.
What's the latest with AJ Green?
While the two-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year and the son of Iowa State assistant coach Kyle Green is indeed in the transfer portal, AJ Green is focused right now on pursuing his NBA dream.
I'm told Green is expected to work out with three NBA teams next week. Performing in front of NBA coaches and scouts, and receiving feedback from those evaluators, seems to be the primary objective at the moment.
Players have until June 1 to remove their names from the NBA Draft pool, so Green has about a month to decide whether he wants to play another season in college.
If he does want to do that, obviously Iowa State is considered a major contender. But schools across the country would love to have him, too. I talked recently with a Midwest high-major coach who is very interested in Green but isn't sure if there would be a chance to pluck him from Ames, if college is the route he picks next year.
Green is going to get a lot of valuable information in May before making any decision. - Matthew Bain
Where does Kai Black stand after JJ Kohl's commitment?
The last time I talked to Urbandale's Kai Black — a must-have football recruit and a modern Renaissance man — he had four Division I offers. Iowa State offered first, then Iowa, followed by Wisconsin and Kansas.
With four offers under his belt, he continued to turn heads in his junior season. A true college-sized receiver, he caught 54 receptions for 888 yards and 10 touchdowns. When you see him on the football field, it’s obvious that he has the potential — and, again, the build — to be successful at the Power Five level.
He has added offers from Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Miami of Ohio and Oklahoma State in the offseason. Black says the extra offers have changed his recruiting landscape a bit, but his focus right now is still high school football.
“Having accumulated a couple of other offers since the season ended, it has definitely changed my perspective on the recruiting process,” Black told me. “But from the standpoint of a high school junior, still looking to play one more year of football, it doesn’t change much.
“Despite all of the opportunities I’ve been given for college, my focus and priority is, and always has been, to play the best football I can the next time I get to step on the field.”
Right now, Black does have eight schools that he can pick from. But he did tell me that Iowa and Iowa State are the frontrunners for him at this moment. They’re the only schools Black has visited in person, and he said he intends to keep it that way this summer.
That’s where official visits come in. Black will take his official visit to Iowa State from June 10-12, and then head to Iowa City for his official visit to Iowa from June 24-26.
With Iowa State emerging as one of the frontrunners for Black’s commitment, I had to ask if Ankeny quarterback JJ Kohl’s recent commitment had any impact on him. He was clear that he hasn’t made a decision yet and that other in-state players' choices won’t influence his decision too much, but Black did say it’s easy to imagine the chemistry he and Kohl could have.
“In my eyes, JJ committing isn’t a deal-maker (or) breaker for my own decision," Black said. "There’s a multitude of other things that have to be considered to go along with that.
“However, his commitment is very exciting, as (it) places an heavy emphasis on the bright future that ISU has. It’s also encouraging because JJ is someone I know and have trained with through 7-on-7, which means there would be some early chemistry within the 2023 recruiting class if I chose Iowa State.” - Alyssa Hertel
What should we know about Jaren Holmes?
St. Bonaventure transfer Jaren Holmes officially visited Iowa State this week. The 6-foot-4 guard who started the past three seasons and averaged double-digit points per game each year has also heard from Memphis, Mississippi State, USC, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Ohio State, Clemson, Boise State, Maryland, Seton Hall, Pitt, Alabama, Clemson, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Georgetown and Florida, per Stadium's Jeff Goodman.
Last year, Holmes averaged 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 27.3% from long range. He shot 40% and 38.1% the prior two seasons from long range, providing hope his numbers from last year were an anomaly.
North Carolina State big man transfer Manny Bates is also a name worth monitoring. Based on a conversation I had this week, it sounds like Iowa State and Butler are among the main schools to watch for the 6-11 post.
And, finally, yes, Iowa State's official visit this weekend with Wright State big man Grant Basile is still on. Basile has been at the top of the Cyclones' big board for quite some time now. The 6-9 forward averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 49.8% this past season. - Matthew Bain
What could Iowa or Iowa State expect from Kooper Ebel?
When the Register released its updated football rankings at the end of last season, Kooper Ebel appeared in the No. 15 spot. He’s been a top talent in the 2023 class for quite some time, but the Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn junior finished last season without a Division I offer.
Then the new year came and went, and Ebel was still without any offers from Power Five programs. And then February rolled around, and Ebel picked up offers from South Dakota State, South Dakota, Illinois State and Northern Iowa.
Iowa State followed suit in March. Iowa came in with an offer in April, along with Vanderbilt and Nebraska. In three short months, Ebel went from an under-the-radar athlete to a must-have recruit.
But even with the influx of offers, it sounds like this could come down to a Cy-Hawk battle for Ebel’s commitment, and fans on both sides of the state should be excited to have a player like him on their team.
He likely projects at linebacker in college, but he's used all over the place at HMS. At starting quarterback, he threw for 532 yards and seven touchdowns this past season. He’s even more effective when he keeps the ball in his hands, rushing for 1,216 yards and 18 touchdowns on 119 carries.
On defense, he was the top tackler for HMS, recording 82 tackles, 61 of which were solo. Ebel had two fumble recoveries for 88 yards and four interceptions. He’s stellar on special teams too, returning three of 13 kickoffs for touchdowns. Did I mention he’s made two PAT attempts?
Long story short, he’s a player than can disrupt opponents on both sides of the ball. He won’t be a quarterback for whatever team picks him, but playing several roles at a smaller school has turned him into an elite playmaker who can pivot into whatever a college team needs. - Alyssa Hertel
Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at email@example.com or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.
Matthew Bain is the deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register. He still covers some recruiting, too. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.