Iowa recruiting mailbag: Handicapping the Jack Campbell race; D.J. Carton and/or Tyreke Locure?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Well, my good friend Cody Goodwin, our wrestling reporter at the Register, has been writing wrestling mailbags for about a month now. I've wanted to do the same thing with recruiting for a while, and Cody doesn't own the copyright on mailbags, right? (He actually does for wrestling mailbags. All yours, dude.)

Cedar Falls' Jack Campbell gathers with teammates before their game at West High on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

In all seriousness, I'm excited to get this going. These stories will be a consistent way for me to share on-the-record information I have, as well as any opinions you ask of me. I'll try to do one Hawkeye and one Cyclone mailbag/notebook each week. Some will be long, some will be short, depending on what's going on in the recruiting world.

It's a good time to start this. The 2019 football recruiting cycle is starting to heat up, and we're rapidly approaching the April evaluation period in basketball.

Also: If I don't answer your question(s) this week, don't fret. I see and appreciate every single question you guys send, and I'll do my best to answer all of them in future mailbags.

OK, I'll shut up. Onto the mailbag.

Cedar Falls' Jack Campbell tackles West High quarterback Evan Flitz during their game on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

How high is Jack Campbell on Iowa State compared to Iowa? – @PCG1637

This question came via Twitter direct message. Which reminds me: Feel free to ask questions in Twitter comments, Twitter direct messages or through email ( You can follow me on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.

The simple answer: I'm not Jack Campbell, so I can't tell you for sure. He told me Iowa, Iowa State and Minnesota are his final three schools, and he plans to announce his decision after Cedar Falls' basketball season (anywhere from next week to mid-March).

Here's what I know about Campbell's relationship with those three schools.

Iowa — While it looked like Iowa State could be an early favorite for the 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker, the Hawkeyes quickly caught up with their recruiting efforts this winter. They offered Campbell five months after the Cyclones, but they have hosted him for seven unofficial visits (the most of any school). That most recent visit came at Iowa's Feb. 17 junior day. Before that visit, Campbell had been saying he wanted to extend his decision into April and he told me he wanted to visit Nebraska for its April 21 spring game. But now he's ready to commit within the next few weeks. The Hawkeyes sent a full force of coaches to watch him and Waverly-Shell Rock defensive end Mosai Newsom play each other in basketball on Feb. 3.

Iowa State — Campbell has a long-standing relationship with the Cyclones dating back to last winter, when linebackers coach Tyson Veidt visited him at school. Iowa State became his first offer last January. Since then, head coach Matt Campbell has sunk his teeth into this recruitment, regularly texting Campbell and making him a clear 2019 priority. Iowa State sent several coaches to watch three of Campbell's basketball games in a three-week stretch of January. Campbell told me in early January that Matt Campbell's contract extension would play a role in his decision-making process. He took his latest unofficial visit to Ames on Feb. 10.

Minnesota — The Gophers are the dark horse. They only offered Campbell a little more than a month ago, and he hasn't been on campus as much as he has with Iowa and Iowa State. He visited Minnesota's junior day on Jan. 27. His Gophers relationship began with defensive line coach Bryce Paup, who texted Campbell his offer the night of Jan. 5. Paup played football at Northern Iowa in the late 1980s with Campbell’s father, Dave, and that’s how the initial connection was made.

This is an "or" situation. 

Iowa has several prime targets that it's identified as main 2019 goals, and D.J. Carton sits at the top of that group. He's a cerebral, 6-foot-2 lefty point guard from Bettendorf whose explosive athleticism is paired with long-armed tenacity on defense. He plays a heckuva lot like Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson, and he's a perfect fit for the Hawkeyes' point guard needs.

For all those reasons, Iowa has a whole lot of competition. Illinois has emerged as a player recently, as the Illini told Carton they're going to make him a top priority this spring.

But he could become a national prospect this summer. He's No. 38 in 247Sports' 2019 rankings and just 0.0074 points from five stars on the 247Sports' Composite scale. Don't be surprised to see Carton's USC and Virginia interest turn into offers during the AAU circuit.

If the Hawkeyes are able to land Carton, though, Locure probably won't go to Iowa. The Des Moines North junior currently holds offers from North Dakota and Drake. Iowa is definitely interested, and assistant coach Sherman Dillard keeps in contact. While undersized at 5-11, Locure boasts Class 4A's most steals (89) and second-most assists (166), and he scores 27.5 points per game.

Des Moines North junior point guard Tyreke Locure drives to the hoop against Des Moines Hoover on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, at Hoover High School in Des Moines.

Locure belongs to a group of 2019 prospects who form Iowa's "Option C" at point guard. "Option A" would be Carton, and "Option B" would probably be Minneapolis three-star point guard Tyrell Terry.

If Locure were to land an Iowa offer, that would likely mean the Hawkeyes missed on both Carton and Terry.

So: "Or."

While college basketball doesn't see as much attrition as college football, unexpected transfers still happen. Case in point: Christian Williams.

Now, that transfer happened so close to the beginning of the regular season that Iowa didn't have enough time to properly adjust. In a perfect world, Fran McCaffery and his staff would know if somebody's transferring before the summer.

But let's play this hypothetical scenario out. Ahmad Wagner is averaging 9.4 minutes per game. Theoretically, if he wanted to, he could graduate this summer and play one season elsewhere as a graduate transfer. 

That would open a 2018-19 scholarship, which would likely go to a graduate transfer over one of the current walk-ons. (There wouldn't be many enticing 2018 class options at that point.) Yes, I know McCaffery doesn't have a history with graduate transfers.

Iowa backup point guard Christian Williams told coach Fran McCaffery in October that he plans to transfer closer to his hometown of Decatur, Illinois.

But this is going to be a unique offseason. Iowa hasn't under-performed in McCaffery's tenure like it has this year. Fans will pay close attention to changes made to help the roster match its potential next season. Our Mark Emmert wrote a great breakdown of what some of those changes could be, including adding a graduate transfer, should a scholarship become open.

Any graduate transfer — specifically a guard — would be smart to look at Iowa.

Emmert points out that grad transfers good enough to make an immediate impact are in "short supply," and he's 100 percent right. But they do exist.

Personal example: I attended San Diego State, and I covered the men's basketball team for the student newspaper. In the 2013-14 season, SDSU added Tulane graduate transfer Josh Davis. He immediately started at power forward, led the team in rebounds, won Mountain West Newcomer of the Year and was the missing puzzle piece that led SDSU to its second Sweet 16 appearance in school history.

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 and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.