A look at some of the best 2018 and 2019 basketball recruits from the state of Iowa.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Entering fall, the Hawkeyes already had a laundry list of competition for 2019 in-state prospect D.J. Carton, a cerebral lefty point guard from Bettendorf.
Carton told HawkCentral he doesn't plan to commit to a school until next summer. Put that together with his recent surge up the recruiting rankings to as high as No. 37 in Scout.com's 2019 database, and one thing becomes clear ...
Iowa's competition could get much, much stiffer.
It did Monday night, when Illinois assistant coach Chin Coleman offered Carton after watching him work out in Bettendorf. More schools will likely join the fray as coaches make their way to the Quad Cities to see Carton.
In addition to offers from Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Marquette, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas State, Northern Iowa, Nebraska and Creighton, Carton told HawkCentral that Virginia, Wake Forest, UCLA and Michigan have expressed serious interest.
"I think he is a legit national recruit," said Brian Snow, basketball recruiting analyst for Scout.com, "and someone who’s going to be getting a lot of attention, depending on how long he wants this process to go."
This whole process has unfolded so quickly for the 6-foot-2 high-flyer with room to grow into his body. In a span of six months, Carton blossomed from an unknown sophomore who turned some heads at Iowa's state basketball tournament, to a consensus four-star, Power Five prospect.
Last winter, Bettendorf head coach Curtis Clark had to ask Iowa assistant Kirk Speraw to maybe watch Carton for a few minutes when he played against Joe Wieskamp and Muscatine.
Now, college coaches drive to Bettendorf to watch Carton at "about every open gym," Clark said.
Illinois was in town Monday. Minnesota was there Tuesday. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott has come to watch Carton, as have regulars from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Marquette.
"Every program that has offered him and expressed interest have felt like he’s an impact player immediately," Clark said. "There hasn't been any redshirt talk or anything like that."
Carton is currently riding a hectic month-and-a-half stretch of recruiting visits. He visited Michigan last Saturday and watched the Wolverines beat Air Force at The Big House. This Saturday, he’ll take his second unofficial visit to Iowa and see what the Hawkeyes can do against Penn State.
Then, over the following four weeks, Carton said he'll visit Marquette, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He hopes to visit Illinois and Creighton soon afterward.
"I’m going to talk with the coaches again, just to create that relationship," Carton said of his plans for Saturday’s Iowa visit. "I’m going to talk with more of the players, kind of bond with them and see how good they feel about it. I’ll see Joe Wieskamp down there, hang out with him for a little bit. Just kind of see the atmosphere of Iowa football and just Iowa’s program."
Carton took his first visit to Iowa on Aug. 5 — his 17th birthday and two days before Iowa began its European tour in Germany. Apparently, head coach Fran McCaffery left a good impression that day.
"I went down there and watched one of the practices and I thought it was run very nicely and professionally," Carton said of his first visit. "I really liked the practice and how it was very competitive, and how they ran up and down and things like that. Got a lot of stuff done in a little bit of time, so I really liked how Coach McCaffery handled that part."
Why does Iowa want Carton?
According to Verbal Commits, Iowa has 20 offers out to 2019 prospects — four to point guards. Based on Scout.com's rankings, Carton is the highest-rated. Based on Rivals, he's second to Detroit's Rocket Watts. And based on 247Sports, he's third to Watts and St. Louis' Mario McKinney.
Reminder: Scout.com pegs Carton as the No. 37 prospect in the class. Rivals has him at No. 70 and 247Sports puts him at No. 118.
So why does Scout.com rank Carton so high?
"I just think everything that D.J. brings," Snow said, "from his feel for the game, to his size, to his shot-making, to his IQ, to his passing — it just equates to someone who is going to be a very productive player, both right away and throughout his college career."
Iowa carries three open scholarships for 2019. Well, two. Presumably, one is already filled by 6-foot-8 post/wing Patrick McCaffery, who Rivals ranks No. 30 in the class. Landing Carton alongside McCaffery would be a massive recruiting haul for a program whose future is the most promising it's been in years.
The Hawkeyes should have a good chance to land Carton, too. Maybe more so than Watts or McKinney. Carton’s a local kid who plays his high school ball 60 miles from Iowa City. His grandfather, Gene Meeker, played basketball for Iowa in the late 1950s. Plus, only recently did he burst onto the national recruiting scene, and the Hawkeyes were quick to jump in.
IUPUI first offered Carton in April before Wisconsin tipped the first Power Five scales in late June. Then Carton impressed at the July NY2LA Summer Jam in Milwaukee. That first drew a Nebraska offer, followed by Iowa, Creighton and Minnesota.
"I’d never seen him before July, and I don't know how many people, nationally, have seen him," Snow said. "But he’s just got such a great feel for the game. A tremendous basketball IQ. He’s a solid-enough athlete, good size for the point guard position and he can make shots.
"Guys that have that profile, while you might not look at him and say, 'Oh my God, NBA all-star,' those are really, really productive college players who are going to be excellent at the college level — lead their team to a lot of wins."
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.