Iowa recruiting thoughts from Milwaukee: Elite 2020 PG Ethan Morton not deterred by Hawkeyes' poor season
MEQUON, Wis. — Hey, folks. I'll be up in Milwaukee all this week for the NY2LA Summer Jam.
There's a loaded field here — John Calipari, Tom Izzo and coaches from Duke, UCLA and Arizona were on hand Wednesday — and Iowa and Iowa State have plenty of targets to watch and prospects to evaluate.
Each morning, I'll publish my thoughts, observations and notes from the previous day of action for Iowa and Iowa State recruiting, as well as recruiting for the top in-state prospects.
Elite 2020 PG not deterred by Iowa's poor season
The Hawkeyes are looking for at least one elite point guard as part of its likely six-member 2020 class. Ethan Morton is one of Fran McCaffery's prime targets.
Morton's New York Renaissance Hoops team played Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Zach Harvey and KC Run GMC on Wednesday, and Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw was courtside. So were coaches from Michigan, Indiana, Butler, Xavier, Notre Dame, Xavier and Illinois.
This marked my first time watching Morton in person. It became immediately clear why he's a four-star, top-50 prospect.The Butler, Pennsylvania product gets starter's minutes as a 2020 kid on a team with no shortage of 2019 talent, including Kentucky guard target Jalen Lecque. He utilizes his 6-foot-5 length to be an excellent rebounder for a guard, and he was able to thwart Robinson-Earl, a five-star forward, once at the rim.
Morton combines his length with quick-thinking decisiveness and a calm, contained style of play that isn't common for someone his age.
"He’s got every finish, every shot, every step-back in the book — but he’s not going to use it unless he needs to, which is the ultimate sign of maturity," NY Renaissance head coach Andrew Borman told me. "There’s a reason he’s probably one of the most sought-after players in the country."
Offers will continue to roll in if Morton keeps developing at his current rate. Since December, he's racked up offers from Virginia, Stanford, Indiana, Butler, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Oregon. Kentucky's Calipari also paid him a visit in April.
Iowa was one of the first schools to buy in.
The Hawkeyes watched Morton play last summer, and McCaffery visited him last September. One month later, Morton took an unofficial visit to Iowa City and came home with a Hawkeye offer; it's was his fourth high-major offer at the time.
There's certainly mutual interest here. Morton values his longstanding relationship with Iowa's coaches.
"It’s great," Morton said of his relationship with the Hawkeyes. "They’ve had a lot of success with point guards, with bigger point guards. If you look at the past, they have big, versatile guys that can handle the ball and they can all shoot. Obviously, they didn't have a great year last year, but the best is coming and I have trust in them and their coaching that they're going to turn it around.
"Fran, he’s another guy that was a big point guard when he played. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach."
Morton will focus on visits after the July evaluation periods conclude. He said he'll primarily want to visit the schools on his offer list that he hasn't been to yet, such as Vanderbilt, Marquette and Northwestern. He also said he'd like to visit Villanova, Xavier and Michigan.
Other prospects Iowa watched
Reed Fenton, CG, unrated, 2019 (Latrobe, Pennsylvania): Fran McCaffery was on hand to watch Fenton play with PK Flash at the Big Apple Showcase on Wednesday. If Iowa chooses to offer a 2019 guard, there are likely other options it would pick first, such as New York's Noah Hutchins. Fenton holds offers from Drake, American, Dartmouth, Marist, Holy Cross, Navy, New Jersey Tech, Bowling Green and Fairfield.
Jamari Sibley, SF/PF, four stars, 2020 (Milwaukee); Jalen Johnson, SF, five stars, 2020 (Sun Prairie, Wisconsin): Speraw was also on hand to watch Phenom University 16U's game versus the Illinois Wolves. The Phenom squad features Sibley and Johnson, two dynamic, long forwards. Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard and two assistants were courtside, as they're making Johnson a clear priority. Also on hand were coaches from Minnesota, Missouri, Notre Dame, Michigan and Illinois.
Sibley has a longstanding relationship with Iowa, where he visited last September. The Hawkeyes offered in April.
"(McCaffery) loves the way I play, and all the coaching staff loves the way I play," Sibley told me. "They think I fit perfect with the program."
Sibley said he "most definitely" wants to visit Iowa City again after the July evaluation periods wrap up.
He currently has offers from Iowa, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kansas State, Marquette, Minnesota, UNLV and USC. He also said UCLA, Texas, Virginia Tech, Butler and Iowa State are expressing interest, too.
Reece Beekman, PG, four stars, 2020 (Baton Rouge); Desmond Polk, PG, four stars, 2020 (Milwaukee): Phenom University also features two lanky, playmaking point guards in Beekman and Polk. Point guard has become a clear priority for Iowa's 2020 class, and both these guys are high-major prospects.
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_.