Class of 2023 prospect Omaha Biliew showed off the ability to finish through contact during the AAU event Battle at the Lakes. The Des Moines Register
Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.
As always, feel free to send me questions over Twitter or to email@example.com. I know I do the call-out for questions on Twitter on Mondays, but I'm happy to take questions any other day of the week, too.
Let's get to this week's answers.
Has ISU offered (Omaha Biliew)? — @jrobs2003_josh
No, Iowa State hasn't offered Dowling Catholic freshman wing Omaha Biliew.
The Cyclones are well aware of the 6-foot-7 2023 prospect who delighted Maroons fans all over Des Moines last summer when he chose to play at Dowling over several other schools in the metro area.
Before ever playing a high school basketball game, Biliew had garnered enough attention on the AAU circuit and in the USA Basketball community to be considered one of the best prospects in the 2023 class.
Iowa has already offered, and Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffery watched Biliew play against Waukee last week. Once the Cyclones are able to get some more time to evaluate Biliew, don't be shocked to see an offer from them soon, too.
I texted a bit this week with John Lamb, Biliew's guardian and AAU coach with Beyond Ball. He told me Louisville and Oklahoma State have entered the picture a bit more lately. That's in addition to the programs that already have Biliew on their radar, including Memphis, San Diego State, TCU, Washington, Iowa State, Drake, North Dakota, South Dakota State and Morehead State.
His freshman numbers haven't been eye-popping so far: 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. But he's starting to get his varsity legs under him, earning a starting role for the first time in the Maroons' most recent game. He plays with incredible energy on both ends of the floor. His offense needs fine-tuning, as with every freshman; his defense is already at a pretty high level. And when you're 6-7 and already built better than most Iowa high school players as a 15-year-old, that shouldn't be a surprise.
"I think people just need to remember he is a ninth-grader, and he's got some really good basketball ahead of him," Dowling head coach Mike O'Conner told me after the Waukee game McCaffery was at. "He's been great to coach."
It will be fun to watch Biliew this spring and summer, as coaches from around the country will be sure to watch him play on the AAU circuit — a more wide-open, free-flowing type of basketball where Biliew can showcase his rare athleticism more than he can in Iowa high school games.
Expect offers to come.
Biliew and his AAU teammate, Dowling 2022 center Ruot Bijiek, who is also drawing Division I interest, are set to attend Iowa's game this Sunday against Illinois, Lamb said. They won't be unofficial visitors; Biliew is still too young for winter recruiting visits. But they'll be in attendance.
Any idea if ISU will get involved (with Tucker DeVries and Payton Sandfort)? — @LoganHayes_30
Iowa State has not offered Waukee 2021 wings Tucker DeVries and Payton Sandfort, the Register's No. 1 and 2 in-state junior prospects, respectively.
The Cyclones do like both, though.
Assistant coach James Kane saw them in an open gym this fall, and you can expect him or another Iowa State coach to watch them again at the next available opportunity — perhaps the state tournament or in the spring.
DeVries, a 6-6 wing averaging 23.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting 59.2% and 50.6% from outside, holds offers from Drake (coached by his dad, Darian DeVries), Creighton (where his dad used to coach), Air Force and South Dakota State, but the main schools in the picture are Drake and Creighton.
He doesn't plan to take any visits until the spring. If he continues to play at this level, and, maybe more importantly, he informs schools he'll consider programs other than Creighton and his dad's, offers will likely come. It really depends on whether or not he wants those options. Iowa, Iowa State, Texas and Kansas are among the schools that have expressed interest.
Sandfort, a 6-7 wing averaging 19.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 52.6% and 38.6% from long range, holds offers from Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, Loyola Chicago, Drake and Air Force. He officially visited Utah in October, just unofficially visited Minnesota last weekend and will be at Iowa on Sunday for the Illinois game. With the list of schools interested in him, including Stanford and Gonzaga, I'd expect him to play out at least part of his AAU season before making any decision.
What 2021 prospects have visited Iowa recently? — @ArbyNiar
Sandfort unofficially visited Iowa in the fall, and he'll again be at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this Sunday for the Illinois game.
He isn't a 2021 prospect, but Howard Pulley program director Rene Pulley told me 2022 Hawkeye point guard target Trejuan Holloman of Cretin Durham Hall in Minneapolis unofficially visited Iowa in September.
Where is Drake basketball standing in their recruitment of Clarence Jackson from Polk State? — @NickMcCargar
The Bulldogs are in good shape with 6-7 junior college wing Clarence Jackson, who officially visited Drake back in October; that’s his first and only official visit so far.
I messaged a bit this week with Jackson, who said he has a great relationship with Drake's players and coaching staff.
"They have (been recruiting me hard)," Jackson told me. "I talk to at least one of the coaches every day."
Originally a 2019 prospect out of Georgia, Jackson opted for the junior college route at Polk State in Florida. Drake was his first offer as a juco prospect back in September. Since then, Radford, Coastal Carolina, Akron, Mount St. Mary's, Stetson, Robert Morris, Portland State, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State and Iona have offered. He said basically every school that has offered him is making him a priority.
In terms of a decision timeline, Jackson said he wants to play out this season and then figure out his commitment afterwards.
Jackson is a 2020 prospect. Drake has one 2020 signee so far in 6-8 wing Jordan Kwiecincki out of Loyola Academy in Chicago. It currently has two 2020 spots left; it is also involved with juco forward Jermaine Marshall, who plays for Florida SouthWestern, the alma mater of Tremell and Anthony Murphy and where Marty Richter was head coach before joining the Bulldogs' staff.
Marshall told me in early January that he hopes to visit Drake after the season.
So with the February signing day approaching, do you have any names on the radar to close out the Hawkeyes '20 class? — @crandall_tyson
West Des Moines Valley offensive lineman Colby Christensen has garnered a lot of attention since his senior season ended, tacking on offers from South Dakota State, UMass and Indiana State. He, and several other seniors around the Midwest, could be names to watch in the preferred walk-on category.
Other than that, Iowa will be adding at least two more pieces in the 2020 class. Indiana graduate transfer offense lineman Coy Cronk is the big one; he'll be an impact player next season. According to multiple reports, North Dakota State punter Nick Phelps is also transferring to Iowa as a walk-on.
Phelps was a standout punter in the 2018 class at Woodbury Central in Moville, Iowa. He will have an opportunity to compete for the starting job in Iowa City.
How did Kobe affect your life? — @CHAP_23
Kobe Bryant was my enemy growing up.
I'm a Boston Celtics fan, so Kobe was the face of the team I wanted to beat more than anybody. I still remember the 2010 NBA Finals, watching as Kobe and the Lakers won back-to-back games in Boston to come back from down 3-2 and break my heart, and every other Celtics fan’s heart, with an 83-79 win in Game 7.
As I grew older, that "hatred" I felt for Kobe turned into immense respect. I enjoyed watching the latter stages of his career — when he could still ball out against younger, healthier, more athletic dudes because ... just because he was Kobe.
He just knew more about the game than everybody.
He competed harder than everybody.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
Your subscription makes work like this possible. Join today at DesMoinesRegister.com/Deal.