Iowa women's basketball: Hawkeyes' 2022 recruiting class gains steam despite COVID-19 impact
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Even for college basketball's most veteran staffs, there was no experience for recruiting during a global pandemic.
A summer usually spent emphasizing face-to-face conversations and in-person pitches now required more mutual trust than ever between coach and prospect. In many cases, scholarships were offered despite a fraction of the normal film. Some commitments were given before campus visits were made.
As a result, the way recruiting classes addressed in this cycle come together may look different than before — even at places with established recruiting trends developed over numerous classes.
Examining the summer successes of Iowa women's basketball reveals exactly that. The Hawkeyes began this week by landing their second 2022 recruit in a 14-day span, for their third overall commitment during the pandemic.
Together, recent pledges Taylor McCabe and Jada Gyamfi combine with Cedar Rapids Washington standout Hannah Stuelke (who's been committed since March 2019) to likely close the book on Iowa's 2022 recruiting class — a whole 15 months before they officially sign in November 2021.
Why does that timeline stand out? Because Iowa, with head coach Lisa Bluder and associate coach/recruiting coordinator Jan Jensen leading the charge into their 21st season together, usually doesn't wrap up classes anywhere near this early. We'll use the past eight recruiting classes as a recent snapshot.
With no additional changes, the 2022 group would be Iowa's first class in that time frame to have everyone committed more than a year before they are scheduled to sign.
There's always the possibility of a de-commit or late add, especially with women's basketball having more scholarship flexibility than the men's side. But with three scholarships coming off the books ahead of the 2021-22 season in Tomi Taiwo, Monika Czinano and Logan Cook, it makes sense three was Iowa's number communicated for open 2022 slots.
The Hawkeyes' last class to have even three players committed a year-plus before signing day was 2016, which featured early pledges from Makenzie Meyer, Alexis Sevillian, Amanda Ollinger and Bre Cera. Kathleen Doyle, who had originally committed to Nebraska, wasn't added to the Iowa fold until May 2016, following a coaching change in Lincoln and Doyle gaining a release from her commitment.
Additionally since 2015, Iowa had four classes in a six-year span where the last recruit in the class didn't commit until within six weeks of signing day. That scenario played out in each of the past three classes that have signed.
- 2020: Caitlin Clark (committed Nov. 12, 2019, class announced Nov. 14, 2019)
- 2019: McKenna Warnock (committed Oct. 7, 2018, class announced Nov. 14, 2018)
- 2018: Tomi Taiwo (committed Oct. 30, 2017, class announced Nov. 8, 2017)
- 2015: Hannah Stewart (committed Oct. 2, 2014, class announced Nov. 14, 2014)
Iowa isn't planning for any of that late drama next November. There are a few apparent reasons why early commitments worked for these 2022 players.
One, Gyamfi and McCabe were both familiar with each other and Stuelke through AAU competition. All three are teammates on the All-Iowa Attack's top 11th-grade team, which managed some action this summer despite a local schedule with no real live periods. In-state products Gyamfi and Stuelke gladly welcomed the Nebraska shooter across the boarder.
Offsetting any possible coronavirus-created hesitation was Iowa's rejuvenated reputation, one three Midwestern prospects needed no crash course on. With back-to-back seasons spent among the sport's upper echelon, the Hawkeyes have re-emerged with a versatile product and a potent home environment. The previously pedestrian stretch, full of decent regular seasons and early NCAA Tournament exits, has ended.
It will still be a minute before this 2022 trio officially graces the Carver-Hawkeye Arena court. And by the time they do, the sports and recruiting world will hopefully look nothing like it did this summer. But give the Iowa staff credit for pushing through this unprecedented time.
Below is a breakdown of the 2015-2022 recruiting classes as they were announced on signing days. Recruits' commitment dates are in parentheses.
Class announced: November 2021
Hannah Stuelke (March 24, 2019)
Jada Gyamfi (July 21, 2020)
Taylor McCabe (Aug. 3, 2020)
Class announced: November 2020
A.J. Ediger (June 9, 2019)
Sydney Afolter (Jan. 30, 2020)
Addison O’Grady (April 9, 2020)
Class announced: Nov. 14, 2019
Shateah Wetering (Jan. 2, 2018)
Sharon Goodman (Aug. 26, 2018)
Lauren Jensen (March 18, 2019)
Caitlin Clark (Nov. 12, 2019)
Class announced: Nov. 14, 2018
Megan Meyer (Jun. 15, 2017)
Gabbie Marshall (Oct. 29, 2017)
McKenna Warnock (Oct. 7, 2018)
Class announced: Nov. 8, 2017
Monika Czinano (Jan. 28, 2017)
Kate Martin (May 1, 2017)
Logan Cook (Aug. 2, 2017)
Tomi Taiwo (Oct. 30, 2017)
Class announced: Nov. 9, 2016
Jinaya Houston (Nov. 11, 2015)
Zion Sanders (June 20, 2017)
Paula Valino Ramos (June 20, 2017)
Class announced: Nov. 11, 2015
Makenzie Meyer (Sept. 22, 2013)
Alexis Sevillian (Sept. 15, 2014)
Amanda Ollinger (Oct. 1, 2014)
Bre Cera (Oct. 16, 2014)
Kathleen Doyle (May 24, 2016)
Class announced: Nov. 14, 2014
Tagyn Larson (Nov. 25, 2013)
Megan Gustafson (May 10, 2014)
Tania Davis (Sept. 19, 2014)
Hannah Stewart (Oct. 2, 2014)
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.