Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: If Tyler Cook leaves, what would Iowa do with his scholarship?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Let's get straight to Tyler Cook.

If Tyler Cook doesn't return for his junior season, what would Fran do with that open scholarship? — @racecarpassenger

At some point today, Iowa fans will learn whether Tyler Cook has elected to remain in the NBA Draft pool or come back to Iowa City for at least another year.

Our Chad Leistikow believes Cook will more than likely choose the professional route. That would open up two cans of worms.

One: It would force another player to take over down low and assume a larger, very necessary role in the offense. Chad suggested rising sophomore Luka Garza would be a good bet.

And two: It would leave Fran McCaffery and his staff with a second 2018 scholarship available.

McCaffery has already made it clear he wants to pocket the first open 2018 scholarship for a deep 2019 class. But what about a second? @Racecarpassenger certainly isn't the only Hawkeye fan with this question.

I've got an answer, but it's not sexy: Iowa wouldn't be in a hurry to make any moves. A source with direct knowledge of Iowa's thinking told me coaches would be in no rush to fill it.

And that makes total sense: The Hawkeyes have, rightfully so, been focusing their recruiting efforts on the 2019 and 2020 classes and likely haven't given much more than a second of thought to remaining 2018 options — especially with players set to arrive on campus soon for the summer session.

Iowa's Luka Garza fights his way to the basket during the Hawkeyes' game against Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.

I'm told any choice Iowa coaches would make regarding a potential second scholarship would be to best serve the 2018 team.

Truth is, a lot of the Big Ten-level 2018 players (incoming freshmen or spring transfers) worth having are off the market by now. The Hawkeyes picked up Maishe Dailey in early May a couple years ago, and that was considered very late. It's nearly June now.

I don't think Iowa would want a sit-out transfer in this situation. Perhaps it would glance at a graduate transfer. Cook would likely stay just one more year if he comes back anyway, right? According to Verbal Commits, there are only 66 graduate transfers still available. The post-NBA Draft deadline/post-summer school market is still coming together, though. (Remember, Christian Williams didn't decide to transfer until October.) Teams will find contributors up through August. So if Iowa would consider filling Cook's spot, it would make sense to wait.

If Cook does leave, Iowa would have only 11 scholarship players for next season. There's no denying that's an uncomfortable number. Two guys go down with injury, and all of a sudden you're down to single digits.

McCaffery wouldn't add another body just to add another body, though. That's not fair to the incoming player and it would serve him no good.

No doubt, finding a worthwhile 2018 addition this late would take some serious digging. McCaffery and his staff would have to decide whether adding a 12th scholarship player would be worth taking resources away from 2019 and 2020 recruiting, as well as summer work with current players.

My bet is they'd hold onto the scholarship. A great 2019 or 2020 recruit will have more impact on the program than a rotational big who will be in Iowa City for one year.

What role does Kirk play in recruiting? — @schulzjj

Kirk Ferentz obviously directs how he wants his roster to be recruited. He helps with evaluations. He'll be pretty involved throughout the recruitment of some of Iowa's top targets, especially those in the state. He'll communicate with prospects and serve as the friendly, longstanding face of the program.

But without a doubt, Ferentz's main recruiting role is that of the closer. He'll make himself available for face time with top targets when their recruitment comes to a head.

For instance, Michael Ojemudia canceled his Indiana official visit and committed to Iowa after hosting Ferentz for an in-home visit in late January 2015.

"Once coach Ferentz came to my house yesterday, my family and I decided that there was no point of visiting Indiana because we already made up our mind that we wanted to go to Iowa," Ojemudia told Rivals at the time.

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz watches the team during a spring football practice on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, at the Iowa football performance center in Iowa City.

Some other recent examples...

Ferentz closed the deal with incoming defensive end John Waggoner, visiting Waggoner at Dowling Catholic days before he picked Iowa — and just as Minnesota and Nebraska were trying to swoop in.

He helped close the deal with incoming linebacker Jayden McDonald, traveling to Georgia with linebackers coach Seth Wallace in late January for an in-home visit. McDonald was Iowa's final priority for its 2018 class.

He also helped close the deal with Ihmir Smith-Marsette late in his recruiting process, offering Smith-Marsette during an in-home visit in late January, when he was still a Rutgers commit.

Of course, Ferentz can't close every deal.

He tried with 2017 four-star receiver Oliver Martin, visiting the state's most under-the-microscope recruit in recent memory at home as his recruitment came to an end. As we know, Martin picked Michigan.

He also was heavily involved with Iowa's recruitment of four-star Lewis Central quarterback Max Duggan, visiting him at school several times and calling him to personally offer Duggan as a sophomore. Duggan wound up committing to TCU in April.

Since you're from the OC, who did you grow up rooting for? — @Dial54

Late May isn't exactly a prime time for high-octane recruiting activity, so I asked readers for random questions this week. I liked this one from @Dial54.

I was born and raised in Orange County. By driving time, that's about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. (LA is much closer to the OC, but everything you've heard about Southern California traffic — and specifically LA traffic — is true.)

I'm an Angels fan now, but I grew up as one of those kids who rooted against the home team. Remember the Halos' comeback to beat the San Francisco Giants in the 2002 World Series? Yeah, I was rooting for Barry Bonds and company. I still kick myself for that to this day.

As a San Diego State alum, I'm obviously an Aztec fan. I got to cover a Sweet 16 basketball team and the birth of a budding Group of Five power in football while writing for the Daily Aztec. That was a lot of fun.

For basketball, I'm a Celtics fan. Like I did with the Angels, I grew up rooting against the home-team Lakers. One day, when I was still a little kid, somebody told me Boston was LA's bitter rival. And, voila: I'd found my team.

I'm not really a fan of one specific NFL team. I'm more of a fantasy football NFL fan. (Dodges tomatoes being thrown at my face.)

My NHL fandom is the weirdest/coolest, though: I root for the Florida Panthers. Yep. Why would I subject myself to such frustration? Because my parents bought me a random Panthers shirt at a sporting goods store's clearance sale when I was very young. It was my favorite shirt. I had no clue there was an NHL logo plastered on my chest; I just thought it was an awesome, vicious panther.

Oh yeah, and in the Premier League, I'm a big Watford fan. You'll have to ask me about that one in person.

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 mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.