They'd play together at their grandparents' lake house in northern Minnesota. Matthew Bain
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Patrick McCaffery wrapped up his work at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp this past Saturday night.
He then took a 7 a.m. Sunday flight from Virginia to Charlotte, N.C., then from Charlotte to Cedar Rapids.
Now, he gets a few days at home before hopping on another long plane ride to Los Angeles for the Adidas Uprising Nations Training Camp.
Planes and camps. Airports and gyms.
That’s what summer looks like for the country’s best college basketball prospects. And so far, so good for McCaffery, who left his most prestigious showcase to date satisfied with his efforts.
"I fit in, for sure," McCaffery told Hawk Central. "I probably didn't play as well as I wanted to because I didn't get as many touches, or I wasn't able to do as much as I could have, probably. But I still think I had some really good games."
McCaffery averaged 5.9 points on 50 percent shooting (17-for-34) and 27 percent (4-for-15) from 3-point range in seven games with his team, the Knicks, which was coached by Iowa alum Ricky Davis. McCaffery’s first contest was his best, with 13 points, a pair of rebounds and an assist. He injured his right elbow on a dunk in his penultimate game, when he scored 11 points, and sat out his team’s final game Saturday night.
The lanky, 6-foot-8 big man said he felt best about his ability to run the floor and finish at the rim. He liked how how his 3-point shot felt, too, even though his numbers weren’t ideal.
"But I also learned that I have a lot to work on to be as good as a lot of the other kids that were better than me there," McCaffery said. "It was more humbling, probably, than motivating, because I just realized, 'I’m pretty good now and I play pretty well, but I’ve got a long way to go if I want to make it to where I want to go.'"
Eric Bossi, a national basketball analyst for Rivals, was on hand at the Top 100 Camp. He said McCaffery proved he belonged.
"Athletically and skill-wise and just overall ability, he looked more than at home and in his element," Bossi said. "Traditionally, the rising juniors at that camp struggle a little bit just because they’re younger and not as experienced at these things. But he did a good job. He ran the floor, he filled lanes, had a few really nice dunks, weaving through traffic. Certainly proved he’s a guy that if you leave him alone outside, he can make you pay for that.
"He looks like a legitimate top-25 player in the country at this point.”
Rivals ranks McCaffery 23rd in his class. Scout recently bumped him up to 39th in its most recent 2019 rankings. And 247Sports pegs him 54th.
If we’re trusting the NBPA, Rivals’ assessment is the most accurate. McCaffery was one of only 27 underclassmen invited to the camp.
Then if we’re trusting Rivals, the presumed Hawkeye recruit is on track to compete for one of 24 McDonald’s All-American spots in 2019. This camp was McCaffery's first real opportunity to compete exclusively against other guys in the same boat.
And he excelled. McCaffery's lean build — the biggest knock against him currently — wasn't much of a factor, Bossi said.
"He’s one of those kids who I think is always going to be pretty lean, so it’s not as much about bulk as it is being as strong as you can," Bossi said. "You can be skinny and be strong and tough. And I don't think he lacks any toughness at all. Clearly.
"Anyone who knows anything about this kid knows that if there’s one thing that can’t be questioned with him, it’s his toughness. That’s beyond reproach. So now it’s just a matter of building as much weight as he’s got. But he just turned 16 years old. I’m not too worried about that."
McCaffery is on a strength and nutrition program this summer and he said he’s up to about 175 pounds now. He hovered around 165 pounds this season, when he averaged 13.8 points on 60.6 percent shooting to help Iowa City West win a Class 4A state title.
Up next, McCaffery will participate in the Adidas Uprising Nations Training Camp from June 26-30. Then he’ll play with his AAU club, the Iowa Barnstormers, at the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, S.C., from July 12-15. And he’ll play with the Barnstormers again at the Adidas Summer Championships from July 26-30 in Las Vegas.
That’s a lot of time and plenty of opportunities for schools — other than Iowa — to come nibbling. But it’s doubtful any will.
McCaffery’s recruitment has been peculiar, to say the least, as even during his meteoric rise this summer, schools haven't shown interest. That’s almost certainly because most assume he’ll play for his dad, Fran McCaffery, at Iowa.
Patrick told Hawk Central that Arizona sent him a letter a couple years ago, but that’s been it.
How about since June 15? When college coaches could begin calling class of 2019 prospects directly?
"No," McCaffery laughed. "(Iowa assistant) coach (Kirk) Speraw texted me on the first day you could text recruits in my class. But otherwise, no, nothing."
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.
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