Four-star forward Zeke Nnaji discusses the latest in his recruitment, including his relationships with Indiana and Iowa. Matthew Bain, Sports writer
Welcome back to the Hawkeye recruiting mailbag.
In case you missed it Tuesday: Iowa offered three 2019 point guards in Joe Toussaint, Yuri Collins and Bryan Greenlee. And, as you can probably imagine, a few people asked about the new targets ...
Thoughts on this offer? Does this seem like a kid who will commit? — @markallendaniel
This question was posted in response to the Toussaint offer, but I'm guessing plenty of you would have a similar question for all three targets.
At this stage, I like the offers for Iowa. They're right in that mid-major-to-high-major sweet spot where Iowa should have a good chance. The Hawkeyes can't realistically extend new offers to four- or five-star guys right now, as most of those players already have an established group of top schools.
Yes, all three seem like kids that could commit. Iowa immediately becomes the highest-caliber offer for each.
Toussaint and his high school coach told me UNLV, Wichita State, Dayton, St. Joseph's, St. Louis and UNC Charlotte were the other schools going hard after him. Greenlee's other offers are from Morehead State and Arkansas State. And Collins told me St. Louis, DePaul, SMU and Missouri State were the other schools recruiting him hard.
Collins and Toussaint are both three-star prospects ranked basically right next to each other in the 247Sports Composite (Collins is No. 241, Toussaint is No. 246). Greenlee isn't rated, but he's right in that three-star, 240-260 range as well.
I spoke with Toussaint and his coach Tuesday, and you can read all about those conversations here. Spoiler: Fran McCaffery's recent contract extension could be a big factor.
I also got to talk for a while with Collins. This kid is tough. He dislocated his left shoulder during fall league with his high school, St. Mary's, but didn't want to miss any games. So, he postponed surgery, did some rehab and played his entire junior season with a big ol' wrap around his left shoulder. He also played with the injury through most of this AAU season, only just getting surgery a couple weeks ago.
"It was not enjoyable. But, I mean, I like the game so I was playing through it," said Collins, who checks in at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. "(Iowa) said they like how I’m a competitor. ... When I talked to coach McCaffery today, he told me that they were looking for players and that they weren't just throwing offers out there — they had offers, but they didn't have too many. So he said once they offered me, that it meant a lot.
"There weren’t a lot (of offers) out there, but they gave me one and they only offer the players they think can make an impact on the school once they come in."
The Hawkeyes have been recruiting Collins since about May, he said, with assistant coach Sherman Dillard leading the way. He's planning an August unofficial visit to Iowa, and he'll finalize the date in the coming days.
Growing up, Collins didn't follow Iowa basketball much. That changed when St. Louis product Tyler Cook joined the program.
"I know they have a good basketball program; I’ve been watching the past couple years and I think I can make an impact over there," he said. "(The Big Ten) is big. It’s one of the big conferences out there. Playing in the Big Ten, being on national TV, that would be big."
As I mentioned earlier, Iowa will compete against the likes of St. Louis, SMU, DePaul and Missouri State — and any other potential high-major other offers that come — for Collins.
What is he looking for in a school?
"A school where I’m going to come in and play right away," he said. "A school where they’re looking for my best interests and who’s going to help me become a better player and get me to where I want to go in the future."
Do you like this choice? — @insiderhawk
Again, this was in reference to Toussaint. But, again, I'm betting this question applies to all three new targets for a lot of you. As I said earlier, yes, I think offering three-star prospects in this range is smart for Iowa at this point in the recruiting process.
I have only seen Toussaint (6-0, 165) in person; I caught some of his game last Saturday morning, when McCaffery and Dillard were sitting together to watch him courtside. I've only seen film on Collins and Greenlee.
From what I can tell ...
Toussaint might be the quickest. He's got a slick handle and crossover, an effective floater and good body control inside. The biggest thing that jumped out to me was his left hand. He's a righty, but I swear he's close to ambidextrous or bat lefty when he played baseball as a kid, because he loses nothing when switching to his left. Whether it's dribbling or finishing, Toussaint is good from either side.
Collins might be the smoothest. I feel like the Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine" needs to be on in the background when he plays. He just makes the game look so natural, so easy. He's also a pass-first point guard who's projected to finish among the top-five assist leaders of all time in Missouri prep history. His fastbreak passes are pinpoint. His no-look bounce passes to bigs inside or slashing wings are excellent.
Greenlee might be the best scorer. He's just got natural scoring abilities from 2 to 22 feet. Well, maybe 24 or 25 feet; he's been known to pull up from pretty far. His long-range shot is effective and he can drain it from anywhere. He's got a nice stop-and-pop in the midrange to go along with a floater. And his 6-3 length helps him finish among the trees inside. He absorbs contact well on drives to the basket.
If you are looking for some homework, I've been curious if Iowa and ISU hoops are offering higher ranked kids than past years or it's just a recency bias kicking in? — @gmschmitz
Oh, I'm always down for some homework. This was a fun one to research.
I used the 247Sports Composite and marked down how many five-stars, four-stars and three-stars Iowa and Iowa State offered in the 2014-18 recruiting classes, then compared those averages to the 2019 numbers.
Here were the averages (bearing in mind that the offer totals on 247Sports dipped for both schools in 2014 and 2015) ...
For Iowa: 2.2 five-stars, 9.4 four-stars and 12.4 three-stars per cycle.
For Iowa State: 2.6 five-stars, 15 four-stars and 15.6 three-stars per cycle.
Now, let's look at the totals in the 2019 cycle ...
For Iowa: nine five-stars, 11 four-stars and four three-stars.
For Iowa State: two five-stars, 22 four-stars and five three-stars.
So, there isn't recency bias kicking in for the Hawkeyes' 2019 recruitment. They hadn't offered more than three five-star prospects in any of the five previous recruiting cycles before unloading nine in this class. That's not a huge surprise, though. Iowa's coaches made it a point in the 2019 class to develop early relationships with guys they projected as elite players.
Iowa also likely isn't done extending offers for 2019, so we should see their three-star offer total jump a little closer to the average.
The Cyclones are pretty close to their averages, barring the 22 four-star offers — although they offered 20 four-stars in the 2016 class. Like Iowa, Iowa State might offer some more three-stars before its 2019 class is wrapped up.
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_.