'Get them to make the right decision': Breaking down Iowa basketball's big recruiting weekend
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Prospects invited to the NBPA Top 100 Camp are assigned teams, and then those teams compete in a tournament. This year, rosters were adjusted midway through, and Patrick McCaffery switched teams for the final couple games.
On his new team, there was this point guard McCaffery loved to play with.
He was quick. He was decisive. He was powerful.
His name was Joe Toussaint, a three-star point guard out of the Bronx in New York.
That was June. Now, three months later, McCaffery will reunite with his old NBPA teammate, who has since become a recruiting target of his father, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery.
Toussaint, McCaffery, 2019 five-star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and 2020 five-star forward Xavier Foster will take official visits to Iowa this weekend as the Hawkeyes host Iowa State in one of the most anticipated Cy-Hawk games in recent memory.
There's no way around it: This is a massive weekend for Iowa men’s basketball.
And as much as Patrick McCaffery is excited to learn more about the journalism and communications departments, he knows this weekend is also about selling the Hawkeye basketball program to his friends.
"Just try to get them to make the right decision," McCaffery told the Register with a laugh.
Perhaps the biggest name on the visit list is Jackson-Davis.
He’s a top-15 recruit who took an official to UCLA last weekend and, after Iowa, will take three more officials to Michigan State, Wake Forrest and Indiana.
Many assume Jackson-Davis is a lock for his home-state Hoosiers. But in a Wednesday conversation with the Register, the five-star forward said he isn’t a lock for Indiana — that he wouldn't be wasting his other top schools’ time if he was.
So how does Iowa find itself in contention?
"Just the relationship that I have with coach McCaffery and coach (Andrew) Francis, and how much work they’ve put in," Jackson-Davis said. "And my unofficial (visit), I really liked it, so I wanted to get a taste and go back again."
A strong selling point for Iowa is also Jackson-Davis’ relationship with Patrick McCaffery. The two have known each other since eighth grade and have grown close during the recruiting process.
McCaffery said he’s going to emphasize to Jackson-Davis that, at Iowa, he will truly be a priority.
"All those other schools, they’ll tell him that he’ll be a priority, but who knows what’ll actually happen with those schools," he said. "But if he comes here, he’ll be a priority. He’ll play. He’ll get his opportunities to play from day one. He won’t be short of any opportunities here.
"I think we’d accomplish a lot together."
Jackson-Davis entered his visit season with a list of six top schools that included Purdue, but he told the Register that he no longer plans to visit Purdue.
Originally, the Foster family had no plans to take official visits to Iowa or Iowa State. Xavier Foster’s father, DaJuan Foster, told the Register they’ve already been to both in-state campuses so many times that they didn’t initially see the need for an official.
Then, the NCAA announced prospects could take official visits during their junior years.
Soon, Iowa reached out to schedule an official.
"This will be, heck, probably the eighth time on campus at Iowa," DaJuan Foster said. "We’ve seen everything there is to see there. It’s an opportunity to actually go and experience the official without having to do all the travel and stuff.
"(We want to see) what an official visit is like — just kind of get the feel for what it is we’re getting ourselves into."
Prospects are allowed to take two official visits to the same school if at least a year separates the visits. And so, if Xavier Foster, a 6-foot-11 forward out of Oskaloosa, wants to visit Iowa again next fall after Sept. 7-9, he can. That was part of the consideration for visiting now, DaJuan said.
Iowa State has also reached out about setting up an official visit, DaJuan said, perhaps in October. USC has discussed scheduling one during the basketball season.
Patrick McCaffery has gotten to know Foster, who recently picked up a Kansas offer, throughout all his unofficial visits to Iowa.
McCaffery’s message to Foster this weekend? Represent your home state.
"Stay home," he said. "The whole state will be behind us. Our team now has a lot of Iowa guys, and that’s something that especially Iowans take a lot of pride in. Just kind of have him be another one. He’ll be a pretty big piece of what we start doing right away, as soon as he gets here."
Toussaint does not have any other official visits currently scheduled. But he told the Register he's planning to visit Dayton after Iowa, then Wichita State and UNLV.
He fondly remembers playing with McCaffery during the NBPA camp.
"He’s a knockdown shooter," Toussaint said. "So every time I penetrate and kick, I already know a 3 is going in."
This will be Toussaint’s first official visit, and he said he’s excited to be immersed in a different kind of environment. He’s never been to the Midwest — but as a New Yorker, he said he’s used to the cold.
McCaffery said he’s been texting and Snapchatting a bit with Toussaint since Iowa offered him in July, but he’s excited to get to know him more in Iowa City.
"He’s really quick. He’s a really strong, powerful guard," McCaffery said. "We obviously have two point guards, but he kind of brings another element at that position — just gives us another dimension that would make us a better team; kind of gives us something different than what we already have."
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_.