Bain: 10 thoughts on Iowa basketball's 2020 recruiting class

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Here are 10 thoughts on Iowa's current 2020 men's basketball recruiting class.

1. No sugarcoating it: Missing on Xavier Foster hurts. To come up empty after prioritizing an in-state target for three years — and especially to lose him to Iowa State, and especially to lose him to Iowa State knowing he's an Iowa fan whose family is full of Iowa fans — hurts. There certainly was no lack of effort by Fran McCaffery and his staff. And this was about as close of a battle as you could imagine.

But, in the end, a close miss is still a miss. 

2. What's next? A logical next name to turn to is Josh Ogundele, the British big man Iowa hosted for an official visit the same weekend as Foster. He told me after that visit that Hawkeye coaches said they'd take both him and Foster.

On Tuesday, Ogundele told me he is still considering Iowa and that he will announce his decision this week. I don't know if it's a good sign for the Hawkeyes that Ogundele took official visits to Providence, Rutgers and Cincinnati following his Iowa visit.

If Ogundele commits elsewhere, Iowa will likely stick with its four signees for this week and may keep its eyes open for 2020 prospects — whether from the high school ranks or the transfer market — who emerge throughout the year.

3. Without Foster, this class lacks obvious star power. None of Iowa's four projected signees were offered by any other Power Five program.

Chicago point guard Ahron Ulis had the best other offers, like New Mexico and DePaul. Indianapolis shooting guard Tony Perkins held offers from schools such as Bradley and Ball State, and Keegan and Kris Murray had a Western Illinois offer.

On paper, this looks more like a solid mid-major class — not one you'd need for sustained success at a Big Ten program.

4. Again, though, that's just on paper. I'm not here to say Iowa's 2020 signees won't have success. McCaffery and his staff trusted their evaluations to offer these guys. Those evaluations have proven to be strong with unheralded prospects like Jordan Bohannon, Nicholas Baer and even C.J. Fredrick so far.

But it's not unreasonable, or unfair, for Iowa fans to look at this class and scratch their heads — and be anxious if its members can become significant pieces for a successful Big Ten team.

Only time will tell.

5. Let's look at the rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite, Iowa's current 2020 class ranks 65th in the country and 11th in the Big Ten Conference, better than No. 78 Nebraska, No. 80 Maryland and No. 104 Rutgers.

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC. July 11, 2019. Ahron Ulis 2020 #1 of MeanStreets 17U at Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC.

6. Ahron Ulis has shown promise. If you're looking for a guy who arguably flashed the most high-major potential, it's Ulis. He was the only prospect 247Sports had rated (three stars) before getting his Iowa offer.

I was lucky enough to watch plenty of Ulis over the past couple AAU seasons. It was hard not to be impressed. He wasn't the best athlete, but he was poised, patient and efficient, and he defended hard. He's a physical, pass-first guard who can create for his teammates.

With those skills and a 6-2 frame, Ulis was thought of as a fringe high-major kid. He was probably good enough for high-major offers other than Iowa. But with only a select amount high-major roster spots throughout college basketball, not all kids with high-major potential will get that opportunity.

Fortunately for Ulis, he did. I'm intrigued to see what type of college player he becomes.

7. I'm not the only one who thinks that, by the way. Coaches I talked to about Ulis, whether it was high school, AAU, mid-major Division I or high-major D-I, thought he was a good fit at Iowa. Several believed he was underrated.

8. There's intrigue with the Murray twins. Most coaches I spoke with were surprised when McCaffery offered Keegan and Kris Murray, twin wings from Cedar Rapids who chose to play a prep year in Florida after an underwhelming high school recruitment. Coming out of high school, there were some concerns with their overall athleticism, physicality and foot speed.

One mid-major coach did say they were interested in the Murrays, but his team wanted to wait and see how their prep season progressed before getting more involved.

Here's the bottom line: If you're lengthy and tall and you can shoot well, there is a place for you in D-I college basketball. Keegan is 6-8 and he shot 39.8% from beyond the arc as a senior at Prairie. Kris is 6-7 and shot 34.8% from 3-point land as a senior.

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC. July 11, 2019. Ahron Ulis 2020 #1 of MeanStreets 17U portrait at Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC.

If the Murrays can maintain that level of shooting, and pair it with improved athleticism, physicality and quickness, that's a formula for success. 

That's obviously a significant if, though.

The Murrays are starting off their seasons well at DME Academy. On Monday, Keegan had 28 points, seven rebounds and two assists, and Kris had 28 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks in a 110-94 win.

9. Who may see the court right away? Ulis could challenge for some minutes, especially if Jordan Bohannon isn't back next year. If Joe Wieskamp goes pro after this season, there may be some back-up shooting guard minutes up for grabs for Perkins, a 6-4 guard who shot 38.4% from long range last year.

Arguably Iowa's biggest need in the 2020 class was athletic wings. The staff identified the Murray twins as those wings. They'll benefit from a post-graduate year — meaning they'll essentially be the age of sophomores as freshmen in Iowa City. Perhaps they'll be physically mature enough to play as freshmen.

Lawrence North Wildcats guard Tony Perkins (12) celebrates the team's lead in the first half of sectional quarterfinals at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Lawrence North won, 65-59.

10. So, wait: Is Iowa out of scholarships? There's been some confusion about Iowa's scholarship situation.

Here's the deal: With four 2020 recruits, Iowa still has one more projected open 2020 slot because Riley Till's scholarship is currently just for this season. However, that's assuming Bohannon doesn't return next year. If he does, then Iowa is out of spots.

There's also the possibility of McCaffery using one of his son's scholarships for another recruit, if that becomes necessary. And attrition feels like pretty much an annual deal in college basketball, so there's always a chance more spots open via that route.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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