Iowa basketball recruiting big board: 11 targets to watch in the 2021 class

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Iowa, like college basketball programs around the country, is doing its best to evaluate and recruit talent for the 2021 class in a global pandemic.

The Hawkeyes don't have nearly as much work to do in 2021 as they did in 2020, though. As things currently stand, Fran McCaffery has two scholarships to fill in 2021 and three if Joe Wieskamp goes pro after the season.

Based on observations and conversations with recruiting contacts, here are some of the top Iowa targets to keep an eye on as summer continues:

Offered targets

Waukee's Payton Sandfort (20) goes up for a shot during their 4A state boys basketball championship game at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday, March 13, 2020, in Des Moines. Ankeny takes a 33-24 lead over Waukee into halftime.

Payton Sandfort, SF (Waukee)

247Sports: three stars, No. 137 overall in 2021; Rivals: three stars

A 6-foot-7 wing who can handle the ball and shoot 45% from long range, Sandfort can fit into any scheme and be productive. The Hawkeyes were his first offer in June 2019. His top schools have mainly been Iowa, Drake, Utah and Minnesota, although Stanford just offered and will immediately be a strong contender.

Trey James, C (Inez, Kentucky)

247Sports: three stars; Rivals: three stars

Iowa got involved with James, a 6-10 big, after he decommitted from Wake Forest in late April when Danny Manning was fired. The Hawkeyes have been his lone high-major offer since then, and they would certainly be considered the current favorite. Marquette is among the other high-majors showing interest.

Jordan Nesbitt, SF (St. Louis, Missouri)

247Sports: three stars, No. 135; Rivals: four stars, No. 58

Nesbitt has been on Iowa's radar for a while; the Hawkeyes scouted him way back in September 2018 and then offered last September. A 6-6 wing who can do it all, Nesbitt has a long list of suitors, including Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa State and Alabama. Iowa made a splash in St. Louis with Tyler Cook in 2016. It would love to do so again.

Eric Van Der Heijden, SF (Raleigh, North Carolina)

247Sports: four stars, No. 72; Rivals: three stars

This recruitment could be tough for the Hawkeyes, as Van Der Heijden, a versatile 6-9 forward, holds other offers from Texas, Maryland, Xavier and Louisville, and most industry buzz has him headed to the Cardinals. But the Hawkeyes offered back in early July and made his final 10. He will announce his decision July 31.

Mac Etienne, C (Wolfeboro, New Hampshire)

247Sports: four stars, No. 53; Rivals: four stars, No. 50

Iowa offered the 6-10 Etienne, originally from Connecticut, in July 2019. Since then he's reeled in offers from UCLA, Miami, Illinois, Kansas, Louisville and Tennessee, among others. The Hawkeyes are in the mix, though; they had a virtual visit with him in May.

Andrew Morgan, PF (Waseca, Minnesota)

247Sports: Unrated; Rivals: Unrated

Iowa became Morgan's first and only high-major offer so far in late June, joining North Dakota State, Appalachian State and South Dakota State. He's a 6-9 rebounding machine who may have added other high-major offers by now if coaches were allowed to attend live events.

Brookfield Academy forward Logan Landers can't quite corral a rebound against St. John's Northwestern Military Academy on Feb. 2, 2019.

Logan Landers, C (Cedarburg, Wisconsin)

247Sports: three stars, No. 143; Rivals: three stars

Landers, a 6-10 big from just outside Milwaukee, has seen his stock surge this spring and summer despite the COVID-19 pandemic, landing offers from Kansas State, USC, Missouri and, most recently, Kansas and Iowa on July 9. He's a product of powerhouse AAU program Phenom University, which Iowa has recruited consistently.

Yaya Keita, PF (St. Louis, Missouri)

247Sports: Unrated; Rivals: three stars, No. 144

Another St. Louis forward Iowa got involved with early, Keita is an active 6-9 big with boundless energy. The Hawkeyes had already offered by winter of his sophomore year. Keita doesn't publicize much about his recruitment, but Missouri and Iowa State are among the other schools reportedly involved.

Other prospects to watch

Daniel Nixon, SF (Pottstown, Pennsylvania)

247Sports: Unrated; Rivals: three stars

Although he doesn't yet hold a Hawkeye offer, the 6-7 Nixon considered Iowa among the schools he'd heard from most consistently during the quarantine in a June interview with 247Sports. Georgetown, Ole Miss, Wake Forest and Penn State are among his offers.

Kuluel Mading, PF (Burlington, North Carolina)

247Sports: four stars, No. 118; Rivals: three stars

Iowa conducted a virtual visit with the 6-9 Mading in May. He doesn't yet hold a Hawkeye offer, but some notable offers include Clemson, Providence and VCU. Mading is a rising prospect who jumped from unrated to No. 118 in 247Sports latest rankings.

Brookfield Central forward David Joplin soars for a dunk against Sussex Hamilton during a game on Jan. 17, 2020.

David Joplin, SF (Brookfield, Wisconsin)

247Sports: three stars, No. 150; Rivals: three stars

A Milwaukee product playing his AAU ball with juggernaut D1 Minnesota, Joplin, a versatile 6-7 forward, has seen a nice stock surge in recent weeks, tacking on offers from Minnesota, Texas and Iowa State this month. The Hawkeyes are among the schools also showing interest.

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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