'I think they'll pull the trigger': The latest on Iowa basketball's 2019 point guard search
LAS VEGAS — Noah Hutchins acknowledges it’s a balancing act.
On the one hand, he wants an Iowa offer. He’s been building a relationship with assistant coach Andrew Francis for about a year. He watched the Hawkeyes swing and miss on D.J. Carton, and he’s confident he can be their 2019 point guard.
On the other hand, he said it’s good Iowa hasn’t offered. It keeps him hungry.
"It makes me not satisfied yet," Hutchins told the Register at the Fab 48 last week. "It’s making you work — and keep working — until you get that offer."
Sources with direct knowledge of Iowa’s recruitment tell the Register the Hawkeyes are still evaluating point guards for 2019 and will only offer a true needle-mover. In other words: Coaches aren’t just bringing in a body for the depth chart. They’re confident Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery and CJ Fredrick could get the job done in 2019. Plus, they’re already making point guard a paramount priority for their 2020 class.
So, Hutchins, a three-star product of Buffalo, New York, is one of several guys in a state of limbo as the Hawkeyes weigh offering a floor general this late.
"They haven't said when they’re going to offer or anything like that. But they said they’ve always been interested in me, super interested in me," said Hutchins, who holds offers from Boston, Western Michigan and Buffalo, among others. "I think it’s getting closer and closer. Hopefully it’s soon. They’ve always said they need a point guard."
Hutchins' AAU teammate with the Albany City Rocks, Mika Adams-Woods, also has mutual interest with Iowa. The three-star product of Syracuse, New York, just picked up his second high-major offer from Nebraska on July 23. He also holds offers from Georgia Tech and reigning Final Four member Nevada, among others.
Iowa began recruiting Adams-Woods this AAU season. He said he and Francis are in regular contact.
"Coach Francis said they’re working on (point guard evaluation) — and they’re going to keep working it," Adams-Woods said. "But I think they may offer, since Nebraska just offered and they're both in the same conference.
"I think they’ll pull the trigger."
Francis and Fran McCaffery watched Hutchins play on Wednesday; Adams-Woods was out that day with a leg bruise. Then, McCaffery watched both Hutchins and Adams-Woods on Thursday.
City Rocks president Jimmy Hart said he’s in contact with Iowa "quite a bit" regarding Hutchins and Adams-Woods. Have the Hawkeyes discussed offering either?
"Both of them at different times," Hart said. "(They’re) considering it."
Hutchins and Adams-Woods trade off running the show for a loaded City Rocks 17U squad, with five-star forward Isaiah Stewart, top-50 wing Andre Jackson and Michigan guard target Joe Girard. Both are quite different, and each would bring his own game to Iowa City.
Adams-Woods, a long, 6-foot-2 lefty, is a smooth floor general with great pace whom Hart likens to Monte Morris. Hutchins, a 6-foot bowling ball, is a defensive bulldog who can finish through contact and beat his man off the dribble.
"They’ve been in contact with my dad a lot, trying to create a good relationship with him. It’s been coach Francis for close to a year now, so we’ve gotten a lot closer," Hutchins said. "They just tell me to keep doing what I’m doing — just stay a leader and keep playing my game."
Added Adams-Woods: "(Francis) said he really likes me game. He says I’m smooth, that I could be a good player."
Coaches also had eyes on the PSA Cardinals last week, including Saturday afternoon, when McCaffery and assistant coach Sherman Dillard sat next to each together courtside to watch them. The roster features intriguing potential Hawkeye targets in three-star point guards Tyson Etienne and Joe Toussaint.
Both are New York kids, like Hutchins and Adams-Woods. Etienne holds offers from Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Seton Hall, Dayton and Cincinnati, among others; Toussaint is more of a mid-major prospect right now, with offers from Dayton, Iona, UMass, St. Louis, UNLV and St. Bonaventure.
The Hawkeyes have also evaluated Ohio three-star Andre Gordon and Massachusetts three-star Noah Fernandes in July.
Up next: McCaffery and his staff will meet this week and discuss what they saw during the final evaluation period. If they believe Hutchins, Adams-Woods or any other prospect moved the needle enough, an offer could come. Or, Iowa could try to get its target on campus before deciding to extend the offer.
Both Hutchins and Adams-Woods said they’d be interested in visiting Iowa in August.
Of course, Iowa could also go without offering any incoming 2019 point guard. Coaches are considering all options, including using a 2019 scholarship on a transfer.
"Hopefully, if the time comes, that might be the right school for me," Hutchins said. "We’ll see."
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_.