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Bettendorf's D.J. Carton discusses big summer of recruiting, what's ahead for him in July's second NCAA evaluation period.

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IOWA CITY, Ia. — D.J. Carton says he wasn’t necessarily a Hawkeye fan growing up. He enjoyed watching them on TV, though.

His grandfather, Gene Meeker, played basketball for Iowa in the late 1950s. For years, he and Carton would sit together on the couch every week and turn on the Hawkeye game — football, basketball, anything.

"It was our thing," said Carton, a rising-junior point guard at Bettendorf.

Life is funny sometimes: Soon, Meeker might be able to watch his grandson when he turns on the Iowa game. The Hawkeyes offered Carton, a 6-foot-2 lefty guard, on July 24.

And they’ve certainly got stiff competition.

Carton has become a white-hot stock riser in the Midwest. He carried offers from Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Marquette and IUPUI into July’s evaluation period. Now Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Creighton, Kansas State and Missouri have all offered. He and his coaches say Iowa State, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Stanford, Ohio State and Tulsa have expressed interest, too. 

Carton told HawkCentral he has three unofficial visits scheduled for August. First up? Iowa this Saturday, then Wisconsin the following Monday and Missouri on Aug. 24. He’s sure there will be more visits to a variety of schools during the fall.

"It should be fun," Carton said of visiting Iowa City, an hour away from his home in Bettendorf. "Going down there and seeing the campus and things like that. Meeting the players and coaches."

It’s only a matter of time before Carton’s offer sheet becomes a laundry list from all around the Power 5. Rivals gives him three stars right now and pegs him as the No. 125 prospect for 2019.

That will change very soon.

"We aren’t going to do our rankings until the end of August, but when we do he’s definitely on the path to be a top-100 guy," Rivals national recruiting analyst Corey Evans said. "I think he’s a top 70-80 as of now with an even better upside.

"He’s definitely a four-star prospect. I don't see him as a three-star guy. He’s an immediate college producer. I only saw him three or four times in Milwaukee, but just the way that he plays, his physical make-up and DNA, and just how he has good size already for his spot. I don't see a guy that’s tapped off. I see a guy that’s going to improve even more.

"The consensus is that he’s a high-major ballplayer. He’s definitely one that’s going to be on a lot of guys’ boards — my board and also college boards."

The 2019 class is critical for the Hawkeyes’ future. They will likely have four open scholarships that year. One slot is already assumed to be taken by Patrick McCaffery, Rivals’ No. 29 prospect for the class.

In terms of 2019 point guards, Iowa has also offered Jeremiah Francis, a four-star prospect from Pinkerington, Ohio; Rocket Watts, a four-star prospect from Detroit; and Tyrell Terry, an unrated prospect from Minneapolis. If Evans’ predictions hold true, Carton will wind up rated about the same as Francis and Watts.

"I think Iowa’s in a great spot (to land Carton)," Evans said. "They probably should have offered earlier because they could have had him on campus a lot more than other people did. Marquette and Wisconsin offered first. But Iowa still was one of the first schools to get involved, and I think they have a very, very good chance at him if they keep pursuing.

"(Carton is) definitely a Midwest priority. And as we saw in 2018, with how a lot of these Midwest, Big Ten schools attempted to get a lot of their guys done early in the process before July started, I could definitely see Iowa, Marquette and Wisconsin — those schools — really making a push for him this winter and going into the spring."

Carton plays his AAU ball for Quad City Elite. The last QCE product to play for the Hawkeyes?

Nicholas Baer.

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at mbain@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_. 

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