Inside the offices of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the sting was felt. Missing out on D.J. Carton hurts.
But the Iowa men's basketball coaches aren't scrambling.
They've got a catalog of names for 2019, and, according to sources with direct knowledge, they never viewed this class thinking they had to land a point guard. It just so happened that one of the very best ones in the country lived about a half-hour away.
So there was a need, but not a "glaring" need.
Coaches already have two point guards they like in Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery. One is a proven Big Ten player who has two more seasons of play left and one essentially redshirted his freshman season.
The Hawkeyes' biggest goal for this class was to find guys they identified difference-makers — at any position. Obviously, Bettendorf's Carton was one of those guys.
Now, in the always-crucial recruiting month of July, Fran McCaffery and his staff will focus on two main goals:
- First, they'll show lots of love to the remaining big-ticket difference-makers they've had high on their board.
- Second, they'll continue to evaluate 2019 prospects they haven't offered. There are a few guys, in particular, Iowa wants to watch during July's evaluation periods to see if they've made the necessary progress to earn an offer.
Remaining big-ticket targets
Iowa is still working on securing visits with some of these players in August or early fall. (If a school or player wants to set up a visit before then, a player can visit a school during one of the three July evaluation periods. These aren't as common.)
Iowa is more in the picture for this five-star forward than people think, according to our industry sources. Assistant coach Andrew Francis has been building a relationship with the Brooks family since Keion was a freshman, and that's a huge reason why Brooks took an unofficial visit to Iowa City in late June. This kid has a clear NBA future, and his top 10 reflects that (Michigan, Michigan State, Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, UCLA, Georgetown, Purdue and Iowa). Brooks' Iowa recruitment boils down to whether his relationships with Francis and McCaffery can trump the allure of a Kentucky or the home-state pull of an Indiana.
The Hawkeyes have been all-in on Jackson-Davis since he was a lanky, 6-foot-7 sophomore. It was really them and Purdue that jumped in first. Now, the Indiana power forward has exploded to the top 20 in the class. This will be a very difficult recruiting win for Iowa. Indiana, UCLA and Michigan State are considered the schools to watch. Jackson-Davis is already planning official visits to those three, but he's said he wants to take all five of his official visits. We'll see if that happens. If so, Iowa will do everything in its power to land one of the five-star prospect's remaining two visits.
Iowa was one of the first schools to offer the four-star, 6-10 power forward from just outside Minneapolis. He exploded this spring, skyrocketing to the top 40 in the country and picking up offers from UCLA, Georgetown, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Ohio State, Indiana, Xavier and more along the way. The early interest matters, though. Nnaji, teammates with Patrick McCaffery on D1Minnesota, was planning to take visits in June, but the U17 National Team Trials changed those plans. Now, the plan is to play out July and take visits after, his D1Minnesota coach Jay Fuhrmann, told the Register.
"He wants to take his visits and find which program checks off the boxes for what he's looking for — culture, basketball-wise, scholastically," Fuhrmann said. "I would guess Iowa would be up there for him. I know he's got a good relationship with the staff. Any time a school comes in early and sees something in you and believes in you early — I think that carries a lot of weight."
Iowa has been in Hall's ear for a long time. Particularly Patrick McCaffery, who said he spent a lot of time with Hall during June's NBPA Top 100 Camp, talking up the Hawkeyes.
"I like him a lot," McCaffery said.
So does Patrick's dad and Iowa's coaching staff. Francis is the point man here, and he's helped leave the Hawkeyes in position to contend for Hall, a four-star small forward who is originally from Illinois but attends Sunrise Christian in Wichita. Kansas, Purdue, Oregon, Louisville, TCU, Texas and Oklahoma are also thought to be in the running.
Ohio State, Missouri, Illinois and Kansas State are the major players here. But a handful of other schools are still hanging around, including Iowa. At one point, Liddell was projected as a top-25 player in this class. While his stock hasn't exploded to that degree, Liddell is still a high four-star power forward and reigning Mr. Illinois Basketball. He's legit. Sherman Dillard is the point man here.
Prospects Iowa is still evaluating
Iowa coaches have a list of 2019 prospects they're looking to evaluate this July, and that list is longer than two names. But these two are known publicly to be on Iowa's radar: New York point guard Noah Hutchins and Ohio combo guard Andre Gordon.
Hutchins is a 5-foot-11 playmaking floor general from Francis' home state of New York. The Hawkeyes watched him in April and plan to evaluate him again this month. A three-star prospect, Hutchins holds offers from Wake Forest, Temple and a host of low-majors. There's been mutual interest here for a while.
Once a dual-sport athlete who held a football offer from Iowa State, Gordon has shifted his full focus to basketball. Iowa has kept an eye on the three-star prospect this year, and it plans to watch him and gauge his progress this month. He's got good size — 6-2, 185. Athleticism and hard-nosed defense are his calling cards. He's from Sidney, Ohio, but he'll play his high school ball at Huntington Prep in West Virginia next year.
Iowa's 2020 targets
There's a big ol' list of rising juniors Iowa likes.
Oskaloosa five-star forward Xavier Foster is an obvious name to watch. UCLA recently offered and Kentucky has shown interest, but Iowa and Iowa State are major players.
Minnesota five-star guard Jalen Suggs is another guy the Hawkeyes have created an early relationship with. They'll have to fend off the Dukes and North Carolinas of the world before too long.
Chicago four-star point guard Tyler Beard is going to see his stock raise this month. Iowa was his first Power Five offer in June. Dillard is running this recruitment. Time will tell if early interest matters down the line, but the Hawkeyes are certainly a major player at this point.
Here are some other guys Iowa either likes or has offered. You can expect coaches to try to watch pretty much every name on this list in July.
Lynn Greer, PG, four stars, Philadelphia
Jalen Terry, PG, four stars, Mount Morris, Michigan
Caleb Love, PG, four stars, St. Louis
Bryce Thompson, CG, four stars, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Ethan Morton, SG, four stars, Butler, Pennsylvania
Andre Jackson, SG, four stars, Albany, New York
Jalen Johnson, SF, five stars, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Cam’Ron Fletcher, SF, four stars, St. Louis
Isaiah Jackson, PF, four stars, Detroit
Jamari Sibley, PF, four stars, Milwaukee
Shon Robinson, PF, three stars, Gilbert, Arizona
Dain Dainja, PF, three stars, Minneapolis
Ben Carlson, PF, four stars, St. Paul, Minnesota — no Iowa offer
Jeron Artest, PG, unrated, Phoenix — no Iowa offer
Luke Kasubke, SG, three stars, St. Louis — no Iowa offer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.