Iowa basketball: What we learned about Hawkeyes' recruiting in first July evaluation period
One week down, two to go in the always hectic/eventful/bonkers month of July for college basketball recruiting.
These evaluation periods represent a team's best last chance to evaluate and offer prospects for the current (2019) class, as well as the best last chance to impress high-end future prospects (2020) as they head into their high school seasons.
You can learn a lot about a team's priorities in July. This is when coaches are getting their board set.
Based on conversations with industry sources and a source with direct knowledge of Iowa's recruitment, here's what we learned about Hawkeyes basketball recruiting from July's first evaluation period.
Three names catching steam at the top of the board
Iowa has a handful of elite, four-to five-star prospects it's pursuing to round out its 2019 class; we broke down each player last week.
But three names have established themselves at the top of Iowa's board: Kansas four-star small forward Malik Hall, Indiana five-star power forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and Indiana five-star small forward Keion Brooks.
The Hawkeyes feel they are well-positioned and have legitimate shots with each player. Andrew Francis did well to establish early-developing relationships with each kid, and now the staff is hoping for the payoff. Fran McCaffery watched all three on July 12 at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina.
Iowa's staff meeting early this week, might not add a point guard in 2019
As we reported last week, Iowa's coaches never viewed the 2019 class thinking they had to land a point guard. In other words: Bettendorf five-star point guard D.J. Carton was the No. 1 priority; not his position.
McCaffery and his staff are scheduled to meet early this week to discuss prospects, a source with direct knowledge told the Register. At that meeting, coaches will likely determine whether they want to move forward with recruiting/offering a 2019 point guard they've evaluated — New York's Noah Hutchins and Mika Adams-Woods, Ohio's Andre Gordon and Massachusetts' Noah Fernandes are possibilities — or use their 2019 slots elsewhere and focus their efforts on landing an elite 2020 point guard.
No decisions have been made yet.
Hawkeyes are being open-minded with their 2019 scholarships
Iowa has one remaining 2019 scholarship. But with Tyler Cook potentially going pro after this season, the Hawkeyes essentially have two slots to work with.
Coaches are not necessarily married to the idea of filling both scholarships with incoming freshmen. The source with direct knowledge of Iowa's recruitment mentioned a transfer as a possibility for one of the scholarships if the 2019 — especially a backcourt transfer if Iowa winds up not taking a point guard for the 2019 class.
Iowa's whole goal for the 2019 class was to look for "difference-makers." In other words: Coaches won't add another incoming freshman just to fill up the class. They're willing to be patient and wait for the right fit.
Some 2020 targets to keep an eye on
Iowa's 2020 class needs to be big — in size and magnitude. There are currently projected to be seven open scholarships for that class; it'll likely wind up at six. The Hawkeyes already have 19 reported 2020 offers out; more will come.
For now, though, here are six targets that are rising in Iowa's 2020 big board (spoiler — five are guards):
Zeb Jackson, PG, four stars (Ohio): McCaffery began his week in Atlanta for the Under Armour Invitational. There, he saw — and offered — Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 160-pounder out of Ohio. Kirk Speraw watched him, too. Jackson's stock will see a considerable bump after July.
Jalen Suggs, CG, five stars (Minnesota): McCaffery also watched Suggs in Atlanta. This kid is going to get the likes of Duke and North Carolina after him before too long, but the Hawkeyes are working hard to wedge themselves in early and hope it pays off down the line.
Dain Dainja, C, four stars (Minnesota): Dainja a 6-foot-8, 240-pound beast in the paint who plays alongside Suggs with Grassroots Sizzle. Iowa got in early here.
Ty Berry, PG, three stars (Missouri): Iowa offered Berry, another Under Armour Association product, on July 12. He's ranked lower than some of the other point guards Iowa's looking at, but coaches view him in a different light than the recruiting services. Berry also holds offers from Minnesota, Nebraska, Creighton, Colorado, Kansas State and Drake, among others.
Tyler Beard, PG, four stars (Chicago): The Hawkeyes are hoping their early offer to Beard will pay dividends, because this Whitney Young product will wind up a top-50 prospect before long. Iowa offered in late June. So far, Butler, Illinois-Chicago and DePaul are the only others who offered. Beard's offer list will match his recruiting stock very soon, though. Iowa watched Beard on July 12 and 13.
Chanse Robinson, PG, unrated (Louisiana): The recruiting services are a little behind on Robinson, who isn't rated but holds offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Georgia Tech, TCU, Seton Hall and Houston, among others. LSU is also monitoring Robinson as his stock continues to rise this offseason. Iowa coaches like where they stand with Robinson.
Other notable items from the July's first evaluation period
Fran McCaffery also watched four-star forwards Zeke Nnaji and E.J. Liddell. Iowa offered Nnaji before he exploded into a top-40 prospect this offseason, and it's hanging around with Liddell.
Liddell might be a package deal with St. Louis four-star combo guard Mario McKinney. Or, at least, that's what McKinney told reporters at the Peach Jam. Iowa is one of a few schools that have offered both players, along with Kansas State, Iowa State, DePaul, Illinois, Florida, Louisville and Missouri. But, if Iowa decides it wants to go all-out for McKinney (a high-level 2019 guard) and Liddell, it could sell itself as the program that would take them as a package deal. Of course, Bettendorf guard D.J. Carton, who committed to Ohio State last weekend, will likely be in Liddell's ear to join him in Columbus, Ohio, and Duke was showing heavy interest in him this weekend.
Other notable 2020 targets Iowa watched: Four-star shooting guard Ethan Morton (Pennsylvania), four-star point guard Jalen Terry (Michigan), five-star forward Isaiah Jackson (Michigan).
A couple more under-the-radar 2019 guys: Iowa assistant Sherman Dillard watched Reach Legends play at the NY2LA event in Milwaukee. Four-star combo guard Harlond Beverly plays for that team; Iowa has had an eye on him for a while, but hasn't offered. Reach Legends also features Chandler Turner, a 6-5 guard with offers from Buffalo, Cleveland State and Kent State, among others, and Jalen Thomas, a four-star center with an offer from Xavier.
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_.