Five-star 2020 power forward Xavier Foster showed off strength inside during the first day of April's live period in Kansas City. Des Moines Register
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It's hard to stay a secret for long if you're talented. Especially if you're playing on a shoe-brand basketball circuit.
That's been the case this weekend with Louisiana guard LaDamien Bradford, a long, quick, 6-foot-4 two-way player with the Louisiana Elite of the Under Armour Association. There's been no shortage of coaches watching his games, and he'll be on many more big boards than he was when he started the weekend.
And that includes the Register's Iowa State big board.
The Cyclones had kept things mostly under wraps with Bradford since offering him last April, likely sensing they had an under-the-radar talent on their hands. I don't think Bradford even had a 247Sports profile before this weekend. He's still unrated. That will change soon.
But, again, it's hard to keep things secret during the live period.
You've just got to look at who's watching whom.
Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm was courtside for Bradford on Friday, and assistant coach William Small watched the end of his first game and his second game on Saturday.
"Yeah, (I'm) underrated," Bradford told the Register. "But that doesn't really faze me. I still have to show everybody."
Bradford said he holds offers from Iowa State, Louisiana Tech and Wichita State. He said his Cyclones relationship dates back to a workout before last spring, when Small first saw him. Small watched him again during last April's live period and offered him. Bradford said Iowa State visited him at school in December.
He said his relationship with Small is good.
"Coach Small is texting me every day, just wanting to check on me and see how I’m doing," he said. "I like Coach Small. He looks out for me."
Small has a strong recruiting reputation in the South. And the Cyclones have another in with Bradford that southern schools don't...
He's from Lincoln, Nebraska — born and raised.
He didn't move to Louisiana until the summer before high school. Basically, his mother's entire side of the family still lives in Lincoln, a 3 ½-hour drive to Ames.
"It’s a big school and they like to play fast," Bradford said of Iowa State. "That’s how I like to play.
"And it’s close to home."
With his stock just starting to take off, Bradford said he's going to take his time with his recruitment and see how things unfold this spring and summer. Iowa State is the biggest school to offer him so far. He said he'll probably take some visits in June, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cyclones get one.
"Whatever happens, happens," Bradford said. "I’ll talk it over with my family and we’ll go from there."
Who Iowa and Iowa State saw Saturday
Beyond Bradford, Small also watched Oskaloosa five-star power forward Xavier Foster, Kansas three-star point guard Ty Berry (twice), Memphis four-star shooting guard Matthew Murrell, Oklahoma four-star combo guard Bryce Thompson and a little of Minneapolis five-star combo guard Jalen Suggs, among others.
Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw was also in Kansas City. He watched Foster, Berry (twice), Illinois five-star 2021 combo guard Max Christie and Suggs, among others.
Both Prohm and Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery were in Dallas on Saturday, from what I could tell. This weekend, Dallas has the Adidas Gauntlet, which features talents such as Iowa targets Dawson Garcia, Anthony Leal and Trey Galloway, Iowa/Iowa State target Ben Carlson and Iowa State target Jayden Stone.
The Iowa Barnstormers also run on the Gauntlet, and they feature Norwalk point guard Bowen Born ... you'll read more about him in a little bit.
Foster's first weekend
Foster didn't play Pure Prep's final game Saturday night and he's not expected to play Sunday, either. So this five-star 7-footer's first live period as a junior is over.
His best game was his first, when I believe he logged a triple-double in points, blocks and rebounds. He dominated the game on both ends of the floor. He was nimble and aggressive with a whole lot of impact.
In all, Iowa State (Prohm, Small), Iowa (McCaffery, Speraw), Duke (assistant coach Nate James), USC (assistant coach Chris Capko), Baylor (assistant coach John Jakus) and Michigan (assistant coach Luke Yaklich) came to see Foster this weekend.
McCaffery saw both of Foster's games Friday and Speraw watched his Saturday game. Prohm saw his second game Friday and Small was there Saturday. James was on hand for both games Friday, as was Capko. Yaklich watched Foster's first game Friday, and Jakus was courtside Saturday.
South Dakota offers Barnstormers pair
The Register's No. 2 and 3 in-state 2020 prospects, Born and his AAU teammate Even Brauns of Iowa City West, both picked up offers from South Dakota on Friday.
Brauns is physically impressive in person, and he has performed well this weekend.
And Born is doing exactly what I and plenty of others expected him to: He's showing why he's the real deal. On Saturday, he netted 25 in the Barnstormers' 63-59 win over Riverside Church.
McCaffery was in Dallas on Saturday, and he no doubt caught wind of Born's performance. I still think Iowa is a team to watch with Born as the summer winds down — and especially if current 2020 targets start going off the board.
Creighton is another high-major involved with Born. (Yeah, I'm calling them high-major.) There are more aware of him, too.
The thing with a kid like Born is that, sometimes, a high-major will hold off on offering until late in the process because it doesn't want to open the floodgates with an early offer. In other words: To keep other high-majors from offering, it will wait.
Of course, I can't say with certainty that that's what's happening with Born. I'm just saying it wouldn't be the first time that has happened in recruiting.
Drake and Northern Iowa will continue to be a regular presence at Born's games this spring and summer. And, as I've said plenty times before, both will be strong factors in his recruitment, no matter who else offers — the relationships are there.
Who's that recruiting for the Hawkeyes?
The Barnstormers tweeted out a photo of coaches watching their 16U team in Dallas on Saturday. In the photo, you can see Iowa video coordinator Courtney Eldridge with his notepad and Hawkeye gear.
An Iowa spokesperson told me Eldridge has not been hired as the third assistant coach; he is currently filling in during the live period.
Iowa does not comment on whether someone is a candidate for a position.
It would make sense if Eldridge is in the mix. A couple of college coaches I've talked to said they wouldn't be surprised if McCaffery promoted from within. And it takes a lot of trust to send a guy out scouting and recruiting during the year's first live period.
Something to keep an eye on.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.