Iowa basketball: Fran McCaffery still pursuing transfers, plans to hire new assistant soon

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Fran McCaffery lifted a stapled-together packet of paper, probably the width of a restaurant straw, from the desk of his Carver-Hawkeye Arena office Wednesday.

“Here’s the portal list right here,” the Iowa basketball coach said. “Look at how many pages it is.”

That visual was telling and reflective of the fact that the Hawkeyes are actively pursuing the transfer market in the wake of offseason roster losses.

Riley Till, right, was promoted to scholarship status Wednesday. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery still has two open scholarships for the 2019-20 season.

Yes, McCaffery said, they’re still looking at graduate transfers. Yes, they’re looking at conventional transfers, too.

Even with Wednesday’s news that 6-foot-7 forward Riley Till was being elevated from walk-on to scholarship athlete, the Hawkeyes still have two open scholarships for the 2019-20 season.

“There’s plenty (out there),” McCaffery said during a wide-ranging interview with the Register, the bulk of which will be published in the coming days. “The key is, you want to make sure you bring in the right person for the locker room, the right fit here. If you’re going to bring somebody in, they’ve got to play some. You have to make sure they play enough.”

The Hawkeyes’ biggest need would seem to be in the backcourt, where 96-game starting guard Isaiah Moss announced earlier this month that he would transfer to another school.

On that note, McCaffery clarified Wednesday that even though Moss — by rule — could return to Iowa for his fifth-year senior season, he’s moving on. Same goes for junior Tyler Cook, who earned a last-minute invitation to the NBA Scouting Combine.

“No, they’re not coming back,” said McCaffery, who was planning to head to Chicago later Wednesday night for the Combine.

In other news, McCaffery said he’s getting close to naming an assistant coach to replace Andrew Francis, who departed to take a job at California.

“Probably sometime next week,” he said.

Back to the current roster: McCaffery said recruiting is going well. 

"We’re involved with good players," he said. "Everybody loves us. We’re showing them love. It’ll start to narrow down. We’ll get some good players."

The elevation of Till, a Dubuque Wahlert product, is a popular move inside the Iowa locker room. He's been a well-liked, hard-working teammate for three years and was a spot contributor in big moments last season in wins against Oregon and Penn State.

Till, who has 24 career points in 97 minutes, will have two years of eligibility remaining.

"Riley earned this scholarship," McCaffery said in a prepared statement earlier in the day. "He is the consummate teammate, a good student, and has worked extremely hard to improve his game the past three years. He has helped our team, and makes us better."