Iowa basketball: Here's Fran McCaffery's plans for his two open scholarships

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery will give one of his two open scholarships this season to his son, Connor, and wants to hold on to the other for a 2019 recruit.

“Connor will get one and I’ve got one left,” McCaffery told the Register in an interview Wednesday morning.

Connor McCaffery qualified for a medical redshirt after playing in only four games as a backup point guard last season. He was not on scholarship. He has four years of eligibility remaining.

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffery coaches against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first half of a first round game of the 2018 Big Ten Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Two scholarships opened up when senior guard Brady Ellingson decided to transfer for his final season of basketball and junior forward Ahmad Wagner opted to give up basketball in order to give football a try.

“You look at a grad transfer. You look at a transfer as a possibility. But then if I do that, then I don’t have a ’19. I want to have a scholarship in ’19,” Fran McCaffery said. “So that’s probably what we’re going to do. Hold on to it and just go after the ’19 class.”

McCaffery currently has one commitment for his 2019 class, from his son, Patrick, a standout forward. This would leave him with three other scholarships to fill. Iowa’s biggest targets are point guard D.J. Carton of Bettendorf and power forward Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana. Both are regarded as four-star recruits, as is Patrick McCaffery.

The offseason has been filled with other uncertainty for the Hawkeyes, coming off a 14-19 season. Iowa could have more scholarships open in the coming months, too, depending on how it all shakes out.

Star forward Tyler Cook and shooting guard Isaiah Moss are both exploring their NBA Draft possibilities, although neither has hired an agent, meaning both could return.

In addition, backup forward Cordell Pemsl indicated in an interview Tuesday some uncertainty about whether he would return to the Hawkeyes next season. McCaffery said Wednesday that Pemsl remains firmly in the fold.

“He might have misunderstood” the question, McCaffery said of Pemsl. “He’s fine. He’ll be here. He’ll be back.”

McCaffery said none of the player movement this offseason was unexpected.

“If we would’ve had this conversation two months ago, you probably knew that Brady was going to grad transfer. You thought there was a good chance Ahmad might switch to football. And you knew TC was going to put his name in (for the draft). There’s nothing surprising,” McCaffery said.

Look for the full interview with McCaffery online Friday and in the Des Moines Register on Saturday and Sunday.