Harty: Nebraska recruit latest hoops star to pass on Iowa

By Pat Harty
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Fran McCaffery and Iowa lost out on prospect Ed Morrow, who committed to Nebraska.

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- This past spring, Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery reminded me about the difficult circumstances with regard to recruiting.

I came away from our conversation thinking that for most schools, with exception to Kentucky and a few other blue bloods, recruiting is sort of like baseball. Failing most of the time just goes with the territory. A .300 hitter in baseball is considered a star despite failing seven out of 10 times.

"We're going to miss on guys," McCaffery said in May. "We're going to move away from guys. They're going to move away from us. That's the nature of the business."

The only option is to just keep swinging, which McCaffery is doing in the wake of Iowa's latest near-miss in recruiting.

Ed Morrow, a 6-foot-7 forward from Simeon High School in Chicago, committed to Nebraska shortly after visiting the campus in Lincoln, Neb., last weekend. Morrow also had visited Iowa this month and described it as an eye-opening experience.

However, Nebraska had long been considered the favorite because Morrow's mother and father both attended the school and because the program is ascending under head coach Tim Miles. Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 1998 and for just the seventh time in school history.

Morrow joins a list of near-misses in the 2015 class that includes 6-8 forward Samir Sehic, who recently picked Vanderbilt after considering Iowa, and 6-8 forward Alex Illikanian, who committed to Wisconsin over Iowa on Sunday.

McCaffery, who is entering his fifth season at Iowa, responded to the news about Morrow by hitting the recruiting trail. McCaffery visited 6-7 forward Ogugua Anunoby on Wednesday. Anunoby who is from, Jefferson City, Mo., has Iowa among his top three schools, along with Indiana and Georgia. He is scheduled to visit Georgia this weekend and Indiana the following weekend.

Anunoby told that he also is considering taking a visit to either Mississippi or Gonzaga before making a decision.

"I feel like I'm getting closer to making a decision," he said. "I want to make a decision, but I'm not in a hurry to. I want to see these other schools to make sure I'm making the best decision for me."

Evan Boudreaux, a 6-6 forward from Lake Forest, Ill., is another possibility for McCaffery, who is trying to add the final two pieces to Iowa's 2015 class, which currently has three players committed.

With the high school market now close to being depleted, McCaffery has turned to the junior-college ranks for help.

News broke this week that Iowa has interest in junior-college center Rozelle Nix, who epitomizes what it means to be a space-eater, standing 7 feet and weighing more than 300 pounds. Nix is from Cincinnati and attends Pensacola Junior College in Florida.

Landing him won't be easy, though, considering that Pittsburgh reportedly offered Nix a scholarship this week. Nix also reportedly has a scholarship offer from South Carolina and is being evaluated by Iowa, Purdue, Maryland and Missouri.

Iowa's 2015 recruiting class currently consists of 6-5 small forward Brandon Hutton from Chicago, 6-4 shooting guard Andrew Fleming from Nashville, Tenn., and 6-6, 215-pound power forward Ahmad Wagner from Huber Heights, Ohio. All three are expected to sign national letters of intent during the early signing period in November, although Wagner is starting to draw recruiting interest as a wide receiver in football, so his situation could change.

Wagner has caught 18 passes for 281 yards and five touchdowns in four games this season. His high school football coach told that Kentucky already has offered Wagner a scholarship for football and that Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame also were showing interest.

This is Wagner's first season playing varsity football.

"There's a three-letter word that describes what that kid is right now, and it's 'Wow,'" Wagner's high school football coach, Jay Minton, said to "We kind of thought that he might be that, but you just never know.

"People talk about potential -- he has an unlimited amount of ability. He can be as good as he wants to be. He's strong when he catches the ball and he can run with it. He's a low 4.5 (in the 40-yard dash), maybe even a high 4.4 kid."

McCaffery also recently received a verbal commitment from his oldest son, Connor McCaffery, who is a 6-5 sophomore point guard from West High. Connor started for West's Class 4-A state championship team last season as a freshman.

Fran McCaffery could hold the two remaining scholarships in the 2015 class until the spring signing period in April. However, that's a risky proposition because there won't be as many prospects from which to choose in the spring.

Anunoby likely will become a bigger priority if Wagner decides to pursue football instead of basketball. Wagner's emergence as a football recruit is yet another obstacle for McCaffery to clear.

McCaffery is in the batter's box and taking his cuts. He's due to get a hit at some point.

SETH GREEN UPDATE: Minnesota high school quarterback Seth Green has been on the Iowa football team's recruiting radar for quite a while.

Iowa was one of the first schools to offer Green, a 6-2, 203-pound native of Woodbury, Minn., a scholarship early in his sophomore year. The interest seemed mutual, considering Green took several trips to Iowa City and has spoken highly of the Iowa program.

But now Green appears to have eliminated Iowa from consideration. He announced on Twitter Thursday morning that his top three schools are Minnesota, Michigan State and Oregon and that he will make his decision on Oct. 17.

Green is ranked as a four-star recruit by and as the eighth best dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 senior class.

RECRUITING RANKINGS: The Iowa football team's 2015 recruiting class, which currently has 14 players committed, is ranked 57th nationally by and 42nd nationally by

Penn State's class ranks highest among Big Ten teams at No. 6 by and seventh by James Franklin is in his first season as the Penn State head coach.

Iowa State's class, which currently has 10 players, is ranked 81st by and 84th by

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: It was a tough weekend for two of Iowa's three quarterback recruits in the 2015 class as Ryan Boyle and Jack Beneventi both struggled during losses. Boyle, who attends West Des Moines Dowling Catholic, completed 10-of 20 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown and one interception during a 24-21 loss to West Des Moines Valley last Friday. He also rushed for 102 yards, but it wasn't enough to help Dowling avoid the upset. Beneventi, who attends Fenwick High School in suburban Chicago, completed 8-of-21 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions during a 42-0 loss to Loyola Academy. Drew Cook, on the other hand, had more than 300 total yards during Iowa City Regina's 38-6 victory over Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont last Friday. …Linebacker recruit Jack Hockaday, who is from Maroa, Ill., continues to shine as a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 135 yards and two touchdowns and passing for 114 yards and three more scores during a 60-14 beat-down against Rantoul. … Tight end Nate Vejvoda had three receptions for 22 yards to help Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill., improve to 4-0 on the season with a 37-7 victory over Marmion Academy.