Iowa hoops nabs state's fastest-rising 2016 recruit in Ryan Kriener
Ryan Kriener waited patiently as his recruiting stock rose and scholarship offers stacked up, waiting on one school and situation to make his college basketball decision an easy one.
It was always about Iowa.
The 6-foot-9-inch, 240-pound Spirit Lake rising senior got the offer from the Hawkeye coaching staff on Tuesday and announced his verbal commitment on Thursday morning.
"Iowa has always been the school I've wanted to go to," Kriener told The Register. "It's where my heart is and it's where I want to be."
Iowa extended the offer after Kriener wrapped up a standout summer with his AAU team, Martin Brothers, with a win at the Division I AAU National Championships in Louisville, Ky. last weekend.
The talented post player built a relationship with Iowa assistant Kirk Speraw over the last year and it has culminated with a second in-state commitment for Iowa's 2016 frontcourt.
"I felt like I played really well all summer," Kriener said.
"It was a combination of finally being fully healthy and feeling like I had something to prove. I've been putting in a lot of hard work and it's starting to paying off."
Kriener is an efficient center at the high school level — 19.8 points per game on 71.3 percent shooting last season — and likely projects as a Big Ten power forward in the future.
In June, Prep Hoops Iowa recruiting analyst T.J. Rushing told The Register that Kriener had potentially the highest upside of any of the state's rising seniors.
"He's got amazing footwork and he's really working on his 3-point shot," Rushing said. "I think he's got a great chance to be super successful at the next level. And he's the most sought-after guy in the class."
The last round of recruiting evaluation periods in July boosted Kriener as a prospect even further. Recovered from a broken nose suffered in the high school season, he was able to showcase his post moves and improved stroke.
He counted around 20 offers, including Missouri, Wichita State, Minnesota and Northern Iowa.
None could match the appeal of the Hawkeyes. Kriener grew up cheering for Iowa in New Hampton and now can extend the fanbase in Spirit Lake.
"I was trying to stay open-minded, but once Iowa offered I knew right away," he said.
"When you're recruited for anything you're going to have a target on your back. Now that I've committed to a really good school in Iowa, the target keeps getting bigger and bigger. But you learn to play with it and live up to the expectations."
Kriener is the fourth Iowa prep to verbally commit to the Hawkeyes for the next three seasons. He joins Dubuque Wahlert forward Cordell Pemsl (2016), Iowa City West guard Connor McCaffery (2017), and Muscatine wing Joe Wieskamp (2018).