Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: What would Iowa look like if it consistently landed top in-state talent?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Welcome, once again, to the Hawkeye recruiting mailbag. I'll be in Milwaukee this week for the NY2LA Summer Jam, keeping an eye on some Iowa and Iowa State targets. Follow along on Twitter and feel free to throw questions at me any time.

(Also, if you've got any restaurant suggestions for Milwaukee, lay them on me.)

For now, let's get along with the mailbag.

IF Iowa could recruit top in-state talent the next few years, could we develop these players and become an elite program with our current coaching staff? — @PrezdelO

This is a really interesting hypothetical to ponder. If the Hawkeyes were to focus purely in-state, dominate Iowa and land the best two or three prospects every year, would that be enough to become elite?

Your answer: There's too much fluctuation in the state's basketball classes for me to confidently say Iowa would become elite with only home-grown talent.

Could it be really, really good? Definitely.

Let's just take the three best players from the 2017-20 classes, for instance.

Oskaloosa's Xavier Foster celebrates near the end of the IHSAA state basketball Class 3A quarterfinal game between Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Oskaloosa on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in Wells Fargo Arena. Oskaloosa won the game, 63-47, to advance in the tournament.

From 2017, you'd get Hawkeye point guard Connor McCaffery, Northern Iowa forward Austin Phyfe and Indian Hills point guard Devontae Lane (who will be a sought-after juco recruit this winter; Iowa State could be a suitor to watch). 

From 2018, you'd get Hawkeye freshman Joe Wieskamp, Northern Iowa freshman AJ Green and Indiana State freshman Blake Brinkmeyer.

From 2019, you'd get five-star future Buckeye D.J. Carton, four-star Iowa recruit Patrick McCaffery and either Dubuque Senior forward Noah Carter or Des Moines North point guard Tyreke Locure — depending on who you ask.

And from 2020, you'd get Oskaloosa five-star forward Xavier Foster, Iowa City West forward Even Brauns and Norwalk point guard Bowen Born.

Imagine that team in 2020: The starting five would probably be Carton, Wieskamp, Foster, Patrick McCaffery and maybe Green manning the other guard spot. Then there'd be a healthy depth of talent on the bench.

MuscatineÕs Joe Wieskamp wins the Boys Basketball Player of the Year award Saturday, June 23, 2018, at the Des Moines Register Sports Awards at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

That 2020 team, and possibly the 2021 team, could be elite because they would benefit from several "golden years" of in-state talent, particularly 2018 and 2019.

But until those golden years become the norm, I have a harder time saying a whole program based solely on Iowa's in-state talent could reach elite status. Because, to me, elite status means making it to the Sweet 16 every year. It's earning a top-four seed every year in the Big Dance. It's Duke. It's North Carolina. It's Kentucky. It's Kansas. It's Villanova.

It's damn hard to reach.

Again, though, those 2020 and 2021 teams — with Carton running the show, Wieskamp on the wing and a rapidly developing Foster down low, not to mention the bevy of other talent — could get there.

What do you think are the chances Iowa gets an early commitment from a 2020 player? — @RogerJWetlaufer

The Hawkeyes will likely need to fill six scholarships for the 2020 class, so they'd love to land an early commitment. 

They've already offered 19 prospects from the 2020 class; expect more.

Iowa will try to get several 2020 targets on campus this summer and fall. Those times will be as good as any for an early commitment.

Your own state is also always a good place to look for an early commitment, although I would be surprised if Foster makes any decision until the offseason after his junior year. He's still got plenty of room to grow and plenty of schools to impress. UCLA was his latest offer and Kentucky expressed interest in June

Iowa City West forward Evan Brauns attempts a shot during a basketball game in the Justin Sharp Memorial Shootout at Rock Island High School on Friday, June 22, 2018 in Rock Island, Illinois.

Brauns is our No. 2 in-state 2020 prospect. He's a springy, 6-9 forward from West, so Fran McCaffery will see him plenty during the winter. He's a mid-major guy right now, with offers from Drake, Northern Iowa and Milwaukee. Iowa is interested, along with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Davidson and Colorado State, among others.

Born is our No. 3 in-state 2020 prospect. He's a quick, 5-11 lefty guard with a lights-out 3-point stroke. UNI was his first offer this spring, and you can expect a full-out recruitment from the Panthers. High-majors will likely wait to see how Born's frame fills out as a junior before deciding whether to offer. Iowa is among those high-majors who are interested, along with Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska. Colorado State looks like it could be a player here, too.

Any chance that Iowa would take a point guard in both the ‘19 and ‘20 classes? Or are they only looking to take one in the next two classes? — @racecarpassenger

Two parts to this answer.

One: There's certainly a chance Iowa takes a guard in both the 2019 and 2020 classes.

Two: I would be surprised if Iowa only added one point guard over the next two classes, even if it doesn't add one in 2019 — meaning it would try to get two in 2020. 

Regarding 2019 point guards, the latest I heard from a source with direct knowledge of Iowa's recruitment is that Fran McCaffery and his staff were scheduled to meet this week to discuss, among other things, 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.

I was also told coaches aren't necessarily locked into 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 2019 scholarships — especially a backcourt transfer if Iowa winds up not taking a point guard for the 2019 class.

(Perhaps Lane, who played alongside the McCaffery brothers at West, could be an option.)

Iowa is focusing on the 2020 class to find an elite point guard. But if I had to bet right now, I'd say Iowa still winds up bringing in a new point guard for the 2019 class. It would help ease the burden off Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery, and it would help with any transition to a newer point guard down the line.

I'm not sold the 2019 point guard would be an incoming freshman, though.

How do you see Foster’s broken bone in his foot affecting his recruitment going forward? — @mmbrooks15

Foster will miss this week of basketball in Milwaukee due to a hairline fracture in his foot, his dad and AAU coach told me.

This will have zero impact on his recruitment. It's a minor injury; Foster doesn't even need to walk in a boot, and he might be back ready to go as soon as the final July evaluation period (July 25-29).

Colleges looking at him have been focusing on, and will continue to focus on, the highly skilled 6-foot-11 kid standing in front of them.

David Bell out of Indiana, how are Iowa’s chances looking? — @CaliScruff

Purdue is still thought to be the favorite for Indianapolis four-star receiver David Bell. Penn State could be creeping up, though, as Bell is expected to attend Penn State's Lasch Bash this month.

Bell is expected to make a fall decision. Iowa is one of his five finalists, along with Penn State, Purdue, Indiana and Ohio State. 

The Hawkeyes have an in with Kelvin Bell and his presence in Indianapolis. Plus, Bell was teammates with Iowa freshman Julius Brents and is teammates with Iowa recruit Justin Britt.

Iowa's certainly got a shot here. And I think it winds up landing an official visit. But I wouldn't hold your breath for a commitment.

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_.