Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: Discussing Iowa's place in the heated race for D.J. Carton

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Crowded mailbag today. Let's get right to the questions.

Obligatory D.J. question: There's a lot of talk going around that Indiana, OSU and Michigan are in the driver's seat for Carton, and that Iowa doesn't really have much of a chance. Is there any truth to this? — @racecarpassenger

I've heard that talk. I think it's being driven by a couple national or regional analysts. I like a lot of those guys. They're good scouts of talent and they're well-connected in the recruiting world.

D.J. Carton attempts a free throw during the NY2LA Spring Extravaganza Friday at Hopkins High in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

But I'm not sure who their sources are to make them say Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State are the only dogs in this race. From my conversations with D.J. Carton and his inner circle, that isn't entirely accurate.  

Now, could Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana be the favorites?

Right now, probably. There is a powerful draw to those institutions, even though Michigan and Indiana have been among Carton's latest offers.

Indiana is dripping with rich basketball history, and Archie Miller has something legitimately brewing in Bloomington.

Ohio State is routinely the class of athletics in this country. It's a huge university where college sports reign supreme.

And, along with Northwestern, Michigan is basically the Stanford of the Midwest. That's hard to pass on.

But if Carton were considering only those three schools, he would have released a top three.

Iowa feels good about its relationship with Carton. He has a strong connection with Fran McCaffery, who has let all of college basketball know the lefty point guard is his top priority. And he's close with Patrick McCaffery and Joe Wieskamp.

Carton likes Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski a heck of a lot, too. I remember a while back he told me Wojciechowski was already coaching him and helping him become a better point guard. He was impressed by Marquette's devotion to basketball.

Xavier is a new name in the Carton sweepstakes, but it's hard to deny the program's recent national prevalence. It's a top-10 program — that, like Marquette, is a basketball school through and through — and it's not too far from home.

All this is meant to say that, yes, I would say there's some truth to Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana being well-positioned for Carton. But, at the moment, the notion that Iowa, Marquette or Xavier don't really have much of a chance? I don't think that's true.

The home stretch for Carton is just beginning, folks. There's still plenty of recruiting left.

Last month he told me he wouldn't truly know where he wanted to commit until he got that "gut feeling of where you feel most comfortable going. I’m just going to have to keep going on these visits and find that in myself."

Iowa does not currently have any visits with Carton scheduled, but it will as the summer progresses.

Warren Central High School junior David Bell (4) rushes the ball out of the backfield as he heads toward the end zone to score during the first half of a high school football game at Warren Central High School, Friday, August 18, 2017, in Indianapolis.

Some big time football recruits you could see Iowa having a shot of pulling in? — @BenFlaherty21

There are several:

  • Jirehl Brock, four-star RB, 2019 (Quincy, Illinois): Arguably Iowa's top 2019 priority, Brock just named the Hawkeyes to his top five, along with Iowa State, Minnesota, Purdue and Northwestern. Brock is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound tanker with make-you-miss-in-a-phone-booth quickness. The 247Sports Composite ranks him the class' No. 207 prospect and No. 11 running back. Iowa is well-positioned here.
  • David Bell, four-star WR, 2019 (Indianapolis): Right now, Iowa is probably competing with Penn State, Purdue and Ohio State for Bell, the composite's No. 102 prospect and No. 16 receiver. He recently told 247Sports he'll visit Ohio State May 20-21. The Buckeyes appear to be the favorite. But Iowa is in the running for one of the country's best receivers.
  • Beau Robbins, four-star DE, 2019 (Carmel, Indiana): Robbins visited Iowa in April and it sounds like the Hawkeyes are competing mainly against Michigan State, Indiana, Arkansas and Nebraska right now. The composite ranks Robbins the No. 256 prospect and No. 19 weak-side defensive end. Robbins is the nephew of former Iowa defensive back Scott Boleyn.
  • Nick Henrich, four-star LB, 2019 (Omaha, Nebraska): The Hawkeyes have been a major player for a long time with Henrich, whose father Mike played tennis for Iowa in the 1980s. Wisconsin and Notre Dame are also strong contenders here. Since April began, Henrich has visited Iowa State, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. The composite ranks him the No. 293 prospect and No. 11 inside linebacker.
  • Chester Graves, four-star DE, 2019 (Iowa Western Community College): Originally a 2017 recruit, the Kansas City product signed with Ole Miss but took the junior college route due to grades. National powerhouse Iowa Western has sent several players to Iowa — including Daviyon Nixon. Graves holds offers from Alabama, Miami, Ole Miss, Iowa and Nebraska. This will be a tough victory for Iowa, but proximity helps. 247Sports ranks Graves the No. 1 juco prospect in the country.
  • Gavin Williams, four-star RB, 2020 (Southeast Polk): Williams is the real deal. He ran a 10.81-second 100-meter dash at the Drake Relays ... while also being 6 feet and 200 pounds. Once he’s through the hole, he can quickly turn on his jets to reach his sustained, top-end velocity that he uses in the 100-meter dash — a kind of immediate acceleration that most 2020 running back prospects don't have. Iowa and Iowa State smartly jumped in early on Williams, who could follow in Oliver Martin's footsteps as the next elite skill position recruit to come out of Iowa. 247Sports ranks him the No. 177 prospect and the No. 17 running back.
  • T.J. Bollers, DE, 2021 (Clear Creek Amana): Bollers is another in-state prospect with a chance to blow up in the recruiting world. Just a freshman, Bollers is 6-4 and 210 pounds with plenty of room to grow. Iowa, Iowa State and Minnesota have already offered. Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, Nebraska and Army are all interested. And Michigan State will be in late this week to watch Bollers. 

For us Hawkeye fans living out of state, that haven't seen either Carton or Locure — what is the big difference? — Ken Smith

Carton is Iowa's top, No. 1, Level A priority for 2019. Tyreke Locure, the talented point guard from Des Moines North, is among a group of point guards Iowa is continuously evaluating should Carton commit elsewhere.

There's a reason Carton is a prospect verging on five stars: He's elite with immense talent. It's hard to compare him to any point guard in the country, because there's probably only three or four that are better than him in this class.

Carton is at a higher level than Locure in many ways. That is not at all a knock on Locure, who is a legitimate college prospect. It's more of a compliment to Carton.

First, some similarities: 

Both players are incredibly fast with the ability the change speeds and use quick bursts to cut inside. Both have a developing 3-point shot that shows promise of becoming a consistently effective part of their arsenal. Both are acrobatic around the rim. Both have slick handles.

Now, to the differences:

Carton is bigger, longer and stronger at 6-2 and 180, compared to Locure at 5-11 and 170. With that length and power, Carton can block shots and suffocate guards on the perimeter. His defense is high-intensity, all the time, and he can lock down your best perimeter player. Locure, often undersized, must rely on quick hands to be a pesky defender. He is quite good at it, as he led Class 4A with 94 steals this year.

Carton's ability to make plays and set up teammates is at a five-star level. He has eyes on the front, sides and back of his head. He's truly a pass-first guy who can take over a game offensively when he needs to. Locure is a very good passer. And although he did pile up 166 assists this year, the second-most in 4A, he's more of a score-first point guard.

Carton boasts a nearly 40-inch vertical that, combined with his length and power, make him an explosive threat on any drive to the bucket. Although he doesn't showcase it too often, Carton is a highlight reel waiting to happen around the rim. With smaller size, Locure relies on acrobatic finishes to get around the trees. I don't want to call Locure a finesse player at all, but he's got to be crafty with his lay-ups, and he is.

Bottom line: One is a high-major guy with blue-blood potential, and one is a low- to mid-major guy with some high-major potential. Both are great and really fun to watch.

This is an awesome question. Obviously I can't go into too much detail on this, but it happens quite a bit.

Don't worry, though: Usually those great tidbits or anecdotes are all on-the-record stuff.

Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.