Iowa State plays good defense and shoots well during key stretches of win against TCU The Des Moines Register
Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.
As always, feel free to send me questions over Twitter or to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 mailbag's answers.
Where do Thomas Fidone and TJ Bollers rank among Iowa high school recruits having nationwide offers compared to those in previous years? — @iowafanwilliams
I started covering recruiting in Iowa back in August 2016. Since then, Lewis Central tight end Thomas Fidone and Clear Creek Amana defensive end T.J. Bollers have been the two best college football prospects I've come across in this state.
A close third would be Oliver Martin, the Iowa City West 2017 star who is now at Iowa after initially choosing Michigan among a nationwide pool of suitors.
If you're not familiar with Bollers or Fidone, here's a quick summary:
Among folks I talk to, Bollers was already considered the next big thing dating back to his middle school days. And he has more than lived up to the hype. He's the Register's No. 1 in-state 2021 prospect and holds 19 offers, including from Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Cal, Washington, Iowa and Michigan. He was the defensive line MVP at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine.
Fidone, the Register's No. 2 in-state 2021 prospect, is more of a recent revelation. He emerged as a target for the Hawkeyes and Cyclones as his junior season progressed, and he has since exploded on the national scene. His strong junior film plus a breakout performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine have led to a total of 31 offers, including from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Penn State, Iowa, Iowa State, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame and UCLA.
Now, if we're talking about best in-state prospects ever? Not just since 2016? I think you'd still have a strong argument for Bollers and Fidone at the top.
Lewis Central 2019 quarterback Max Duggan, who committed to TCU, is up there, too. West Des Moines Valley 2016 offensive lineman John Raridon picked Nebraska over the likes of Oregon and Oklahoma.
The 2014 class was big, with Cedar Falls offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher committing to Alabama and Urbandale receiver Allen Lazard picking the Cyclones over Notre Dame. Back in 2012, Dowling Catholic receiver Amara Darboh picked Michigan over Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa and others.
But, in terms of the sheer volume of offers from across the country, nobody has Fidone and Bollers beat. And based on the way their recruitments currently stand, Iowa and Iowa State have uphill battles to land either, but the Cyclones are in a pretty good spot with Bollers.
What are your thoughts on Jaden Walker? … Will he be ready for next year? — Daron
It was only a matter of time before questions like this showed up.
In the midst of a rough season, fans will always turn their attention to the future. Alex Halsted at 247Sports tweeted the other day that Iowa State's list of 2020 signees was the Cyclones site's most-visited page during the Texas Tech loss.
And with Tyrese Haliburton likely departing for the NBA after this season, point guard is a serious question mark entering the 2020 season.
So … is Jaden Walker, the Cyclones' lone incoming point guard, ready to go?
Short answer: Only time will tell.
Walker is enjoying a good senior season playing high-level competition at CORE4 Prep in Atlanta. And he's seen a little bump in the rankings during the season, jumping into 247Sports' top-50 point guards in the class. ESPN likes him more, pegging him at No. 25 among 2020 point guards.
He was an under-the-radar get for Iowa State. Outside of in-state Georgia Tech, Iowa State was the first high-major program to really jump on Walker's bandwagon. Assistant coach William Small showed strong interest from an early stage, and that longstanding relationship paid off when Walker committed to the Cyclones over Mississippi State and budding interest from Maryland and Florida State in September.
Tobias Howard, Walker's AAU coach with Adidas-sponsored Southeast United, told me in September that once Walker added a more consistent jump shot over the spring and summer, there was no doubt he was a high-major player.
"He has all the skill level," Howard said. "He can score at all three levels, make great passes at the height he’s at, long on defense, good defender."
Walker reminds Iowa State's staff of Haliburton. He's a long, 6-foot-5 facilitator who excels at making plays for others. With that said, he's also lean and could afford to add bulk for the rigors of Big 12 action.
… But people were saying the same thing about Haliburton two years ago, and he turned into a surprise freshman star and a potential lottery pick as a sophomore.
The point guard position is up for grabs next year. Rasir Bolton has mostly taken over with Haliburton gone. Prentiss Nixon has filled minutes at the spot, too. We'll see how Walker, who may be the purest point guard of the three, fits into the mix.
"He can be a true point guard, that’s the thing about it," Howard said in September. "(There aren’t many tall guards who) can make the decisions and handle the ball as fluidly as he does, going left and right."
Do you think (Iowa State) will offer any (junior college prospects) and if they do who do they have the best chance of picking up in the 2020 Class? — @LoganHayes_30
There may be more potential targets out there, but I know Iowa State has been involved with RayQuawndis Mitchell, a 6-5 guard who plays for Otero Junior College in Colorado. He told me this week that he's in contact with Cyclone coaches and that he unofficially visited campus over winter break.
"I loved the environment," he told me of his visit to Ames. "Players and coaches were great (and the) fans were awesome."
Mitchell is averaging 15.4 points per game while shooting 41.4% and 42.6% from 3-point range this winter. He's also adding 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
Originally a 2018 prospect, Mitchell committed to Idaho after averaging 22.1 points and almost 10 rebounds a game as a senior at Blane High School in Blane, Minnesota. The Midwest product scored 4.4 points per game as a freshman before transferring to Otero.
He currently holds offers from Grand Canyon, South Florida, Portland, South Dakota State, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Iona, South Dakota, Milwaukee, North Florida, St. Bonaventure and Jacksonville State.
If Iowa State offers, you'd figure it would shoot to, or at least near, the top of his list. Mitchell said he doesn't plan to make a decision until after his season.
And if/when Haliburton goes pro, that would open a 2020 spot. (Others may open through attrition, too.) A veteran addition would make sense for next year's roster.
Is there any chance Hunter Dekkers (or anyone else for that matter) ends up playing 2 sports in college, or have those days ended? — @ted_rood
Iowa State quarterback signee Hunter Dekkers is a four-sport star at West Sioux. Beyond football, he's also a standout in basketball, baseball and track and field; he's scoring 21.6 points per game entering this weekend's regional basketball playoff game.
Dekkers won't play two sports at Iowa State. He's a sure-fire Division I quarterback. But while he's excellent in high school at his other three sports, he isn't quite at a D-I level. (He's probably the closest in baseball, which Iowa State doesn't have.)
I wouldn't say the days of athletes playing two sports in college are over. But there are certainly fewer people doing it now than in decades prior.
It depends a lot on the sports. You'll occasionally see guys playing football and baseball or track and field. Jameis Winston played baseball during his stellar Florida State career. Heck, we thought Heisman winner Kyler Murray would actually wind up playing baseball professionally. Five-star offensive lineman Bryce Foster, one of the top 2021 prospects, also plans to continue track and field wherever he commits.
What were the 5 best things that happened on your Europe trip? — @patrickcarr_
OK, this is definitely my favorite question! I just got back from a couple weeks in Europe with my girlfriend, figuring we'd get a nice break in before the grind of March and April. We went to Amsterdam, Rome and Paris, and they were all wonderful.
But if I had to pick a top five … here's an attempt:
1. Pasta-making class/wine tasting at a small family vineyard in the Italian countryside on Valentine's Day. Apparently wine jelly is a thing. I can't get enough of it.
2. Iari The Vino — a little restaurant tucked away in a back street near the Coliseum and the Forum. Amazing gnocchi. Two Rome things in a row. (We loved Rome.)
3. Disneyland Paris. Don't judge me.
4. All of Amsterdam. It just has such a cool aesthetic, and our hotel was right on one of the many canals. And, yes, we did have some pastries that would make Pella proud.
5. Pain Vin Frommage — another little restaurant tucked away in a back street. (Notice a trend?) Pain Vin Frommage literally translates to Bread Wine Cheese, and the fondu was ridiculously good.
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_.
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