Bain: 10 thoughts on the state of Iowa men's basketball recruiting
The Iowa men's basketball program officially inked its 2019 recruiting class Wednesday.
Patrick McCaffery, coach Fran McCaffery's son and a four-star forward out of Iowa City West, and three-star New York point guard Joe Toussaint, combined to form the No. 50 recruiting class in the country and No. 8 in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports.
Here are 10 thoughts on the state of Iowa men's basketball recruiting — including a look at the 2019 signees and what the future might hold for the Hawkeyes.
1. Much will be expected of Patrick McCaffery
He is Iowa's fourth-best recruit since 2000, according to 247Sports. During a period in which Iowa hasn't had the type of March success it wants, McCaffery is seen as a catalyst — a potential all-Big Ten player who could lead the program to sustained prominence within the conference again.
His recruiting stock surged early in his high school career when he was considered a top-30 blue-chip prospect. That stock faded and McCaffery is now considered more in the top-75 range, and you can be sure that'll motivate him at the next level.
McCaffery has become almost known more for what he does off the ball — for all the little things he does to help a team win. He's a smart player and active defender who is 6-foot-9 and can shoot the 3-ball. Does he redshirt his first year to bulk up? We'll see. But McCaffery's got the makings to have an impact in Iowa City.
2. We could see a lot of Joe Toussaint right away
Toussaint's high school coach said that was Iowa's message during his recruitment: Come to Iowa and you'll get minutes. Even though they went hard after in-state standout D.J. Carton, Iowa coaches will tell you they didn't view point guard as an absolute position of need for 2019, and that they would only add a point guard if he could move the needle.
The Hawkeyes believe they found that in Toussaint, and fans can expect to see him have an immediate role as a freshman. Along with Connor McCaffery, he'll help allow Jordan Bohannon to play off the ball more in 2019-20.
3. In terms of toughness and edge, Toussaint is ready
Toussaint was born and raised in the South Bronx. He became known on the AAU circuit for his hard-nosed play and desire to win every possession — a mentality he developed growing up on the blacktops of the borough that holds Yankee Stadium.
No matter what college level a kid plays at, that background translates. Toussaint will still need to learn plenty to be a productive Big Ten player, but he won't have to be told to dive for a loose ball.
4. Iowa swung for the fences in 2019
Iowa did a great job identifying elite talent and building relationships with those targets early. Then the Hawkeyes were hoping to build a class around Patrick McCaffery and rely on his personality to attract other elite guys to Iowa City. It almost worked with four-star wing Malik Hall. It almost worked with Carton. It really almost worked with Trayce Jackson-Davis. But…
5. The 2017-18 season hurt
Iowa's 14-19 campaign and its 4-14 tally in conference play — and the fact that this bad season was quite a sour surprise — gave it a disadvantage against the other high-major programs recruiting its elite 2019 targets.
In the end, it's all about wins and the chance for conference/national championships for most of these high-end prospects. The Hawkeyes could sell an exciting future with young stars like Joe Wieskamp and Patrick McCaffery, but they couldn't sell recent success. That hurt.
6. Hawkeyes are positioned well with Xavier Foster
Iowa missed on this state's 2019 mega-recruit, but it's positioned well with the 2020 mega-recruit in Oskaloosa forward Xavier Foster.
He and his family have visited campus so many times they've lost count. Iowa got Foster's first official visit in September — the same weekend Patrick McCaffery and Toussaint were visiting. Fran McCaffery has made Foster a clear priority and the family knows that.
Right now, the five schools to watch are Iowa, Iowa State, UCLA, USC and Kansas. Michigan has also had an eye on Foster for a while so we'll see what happens there.
7. 2020 is going to be a large class
Right now, Iowa's 2020 class is projected to have six open slots and the Hawkeyes will likely add up to five or six players. An early commit would certainly be beneficial.
Foster is obviously a major 2020 target. Also keep an eye on Ben Carlson and Dawson Garcia, four-star power forwards from Minnesota. In the backcourt, some names to monitor are Detroit point guard Lorne Bowman, who's announcing his college decision Friday and thought to be a Wisconsin lean; St. Louis four-star point guard Caleb Love; Wisconsin four-star point guard Desmond Polk; Missouri four-star point guard Ty Berry; and Indiana four-star shooting guards Trey Galloway and Anthony Leal.
Iowa needs a much more successful 2018-19 season to hit with these targets.
8. Keeping an eye on its own state for 2021
The early returns for this state's 2021 class are quite promising, especially at the top.
Iowa is keeping tabs on Chase Courbat, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Cedar Falls, and Angelo Winkel, a 6-foot-8 power forward who plays for Bishop Garrigan. It's also monitoring Michael Duax, a 6-foot-3 Nicholas Baer-type player out of Dubuque Hempstead; Jadin Johnson, a 6-foot-3 point guard out of Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln; and Karson Sharar, a 6-foot point guard out of Iowa Falls-Alden who holds a Drake offer. It'll also keep an eye on Jaylon Moses, a 6-foot-8 wing/forward out of Cedar Rapids Xavier.
9. Look for a continued Iowa presence in Minnesota
Don't expect Iowa to reduce its recruiting presence in Minnesota any time soon. Over the past decade — but especially in the past few years — Minnesota has become a hotbed for high-end talent.
The Hawkeyes pursued three Minnesota prospects in 2019: Tyrell Terry, Zeke Nnaji and Matthew Hurt. In 2020, they've offered Carlson and Garcia, as well as four-star center Dain Dainja and five-star combo guard Jalen Suggs. In 2021, they've already offered Kendall Brown, a four-star small forward.
10. Staff is open to filling a third 2019 scholarship
It's no secret that Tyler Cook will likely declare for the NBA Draft after this season. Consequently, Iowa coaches are keeping their options open for a potential third 2019 recruit.
High school, junior college, sit-out transfer, graduate transfer — it's all on the table. However, the team is in no rush to fill the spot, and more likely than not, it will carry Cook's scholarship into the 2020 class. Jack Nunge redshirting this season might reduce a need to fill a third 2019 slot, as the Hawkeyes now have the 6-foot-11 forward's services through the 2021-22 season.
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_.