Patience pays off for Iowa Hawkeye recruit C.J. Fredrick, who reminds one analyst of Jordan Bohannon
It’s Oct. 26 in Alexandria, Kentucky.
C.J. Fredrick, a star basketball player for powerhouse Covington Catholic, is eating dinner with his family — spaghetti with meat sauce. His sister, Julia, is leaving for New York soon. She lives there out east now, so the Fredricks don’t get to share dinner much anymore.
It’s already a special night. It gets better when C.J.'s phone rings.
On the other line: Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery.
"I told you the minute a scholarship was available," Frederick remembers McCaffery saying, "I would let you know about it."
Fredrick, a 6-foot-4 senior shooting guard, had committed to the Hawkeyes in August. He knew there might not be a scholarship for him as a freshman. But when junior point guard Christian Williams elected to transfer last week, McCaffery gave his open 2018 scholarship to Fredrick.
Patience paid off. Literally.
"He lived up to his word and called me right away," Fredrick told HawkCentral on Wednesday. "And he told me he was proud of me."
Fredrick and Muscatine's Joe Wieskamp form Iowa's 2018 class.
It’s well-documented that Fredrick, who will sign his National Letter of Intent on Nov. 8, turned down enticing opportunities to instead potentially pay for his first year at Iowa. He had committable offers from Xavier, Nebraska and Penn State. He enjoyed a great relationship with Xavier head coach Chris Mack and his staff, too, having grown up 15 minutes from the Cincinnati campus.
In the end, Iowa won out for two reasons: Its style of play and Fredrick’s relationship with McCaffery, who was an assistant coach for his uncle, Joe Fredrick, at Notre Dame.
"I told him, 'Take the scholarship out of it; where do you want to go to school, and where do you feel the best?'" C.J.’s dad, Chuck, said. "(Iowa is) where he wanted to be."
Rivals and 247Sports give Fredrick three stars, and 247Sports ranks him the No. 3 2018 prospect in Kentucky. He’s gained a reputation with his AAU team, Indiana Elite, as a lights-out marksman. Scout’s Brian Snow called Fredrick "one of the elite shooters in America" when he initially committed in August.
Local schools, such as Northern Kentucky and Miami of Ohio, noticed Fredrick first. Ball State and Miami of Ohio offered in the fall of his junior year. Iowa offered then, too, becoming Fredrick’s first Power 5 suitor.
That season, Fredrick helped lead Covington Catholic to a 29-6 record and a No. 6 ranking in Kentucky. He averaged 19.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while shooting 40.4 percent from long range. As a sophomore, he averaged 10.7 points and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 40.2 percent from outside.
"He has some Jordan Bohannon in him; some Brady Ellingson in him," said Rivals national analyst Corey Evans, who frequently saw Fredrick on the summer circuit. "With everything that Coach McCaffery does, he fits that role to a 'T.'"
Fredrick said McCaffery wants him to focus on developing more combo guard skills this season — running the point, coming off screens, making plays for others. Covington head coach Scott Ruthsatz said he’s already seen Fredrick make great strides in those areas in high school — especially his play-making.
"Passing, I’ve found over the years, is the difference between great teams and good teams," he said. "A lot of the personnel are the same; you can take a lot of the same personnel throughout the Big Ten; they’re all the same. But passing is the lost art. And that’s one thing that C.J. went from a C to an A, and that’s really his difference. He might not look the part, but he’s more athletic than you think, and he just makes great decisions with the ball."
Fredrick thanks former Xavier guard Malcolm Bernard for much of his development. Because he’s so close to Xavier’s Cincinnati campus, Fredrick frequents the school’s recreation center.
And one day last year, he met Bernard, a 6-foot-6 graduate transfer who started for Xavier’s Elite Eight team.
"He was just, like, 'Hey, man, you wanna play one on one?'" Fredrick said. "And after that day, I’d just keep going over there and playing with him and, eventually, it just became a routine."
So while the 6-4, 170-pound Fredrick still needs to add strength before throwing it down with Big Ten Conference guards, he has a season of experience battling with one of the Big East’s best.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.