Waukee junior wing Tucker DeVries reacts to his team beating Valley to advance to the boys' basketball state tournament. 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 week's answers:
You could say Iowa state is off to a slow start in recruiting for 2021. But things could turn around with some big name hits, like (T.J.) Bollers, (Brody) Brecht and (Thomas) Fidone. What’s it looking like for Iowa State land all/any? — @C_Roberts22
Compared to the average across the country, the Cyclones are actually doing fine so far in 2021 recruiting. It may seem like their four pledges is a small number because Iowa already has seven and some schools, such as Ohio State and Florida, have 10 and 13, respectively.
But four is OK for now, as long as a team has strong relationships with other targets.
Now, if this question was more addressing Iowa State not landing the best in-state 2021 prospects so far, specifically compared to its rival out east, that's a separate discussion.
I really like the Cyclones' two in-state 2021 additions so far in Grinnell offensive lineman Dodge Sauser and Dubuque Senior offensive lineman Jim Bonifas. I've got Sauser at No. 8 in our in-state rankings, which is higher than any other outlet. And, after entering the season off the radar, Bonifas shot all the way up to No. 11 in our rankings because his junior film was so impressive.
But it's also fair to say, judging by the rankings, that the Hawkeyes have done better in-state in 2021. They've landed No. 3 Connor Colby (offensive lineman, Cedar Rapids Kennedy), No. 5 Griffin Liddle (defensive tackle, Bettendorf), No. 7 Jeff Bowie (defensive end, West Branch), No. 9 Jaden Harrell (linebacker, Urbandale) and No. 13 Zach Twedt (linebacker, Roland-Story).
Obviously, some huge targets are still on the board: No. 1 T.J. Bollers (defensive end, Clear Creek Amana), No. 2 Thomas Fidone (tight end, Lewis Central) and No. 6 Brody Brecht (receiver, Ankeny).
Bollers: The Cyclones are in tight with Bollers, who has started honing his focus on schools such as Iowa State, Cal, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Washington. It remains to be seen where Iowa winds up when all is said and done. Wisconsin has been high on his list for a long time, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he picked any of the other four, too. Alabama and Texas A&M also recently offered. If he commits to Iowa State, Bollers would be Matt Campbell's biggest recruiting win in Ames.
Fidone: If he doesn't pick Nebraska or Iowa, I'd guess Fidone chooses one of the many national powerhouse programs that have offered him. This one feels like an uphill battle for the Cyclones.
Brecht: Just talked with Brecht this week, and he said all the schools that have offered are contenders. So that's Iowa State, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Kansas State. There could be some movement soon, though. Brecht has visits to Kansas State and Kansas on March 20 and 21, respectively. After that, Brecht told me he'll "have more of an idea" where his recruitment stands, moving forward. If Brecht had dreamed of only being a Hawkeye or a Cyclone, he had that chance long ago; he held offers from both programs entering his junior season — that's not to say Brecht won't pick Iowa or Iowa State, but he has allowed his recruitment to play out to see what all of his options are.
Some other notable in-state 2021 prospects to watch:
No. 10 Marcus Morgan, QB/ATH, Iowa City West: Iowa State and Northern Iowa have offered.
No. 14 Cooper DeJean, ATH, OABCIG: The Cyclones have not yet offered, but DeJean is one of the state's very best athletes. Iowa, North Dakota State, Illinois State and South Dakota State have offered.
No. 15 Max Llewellyn, TE/DE, Urbandale: Iowa State has offered Llewellyn, another prospect who shot up our rankings thanks to impressive junior film. Don't be surprised to see Llewellyn jump again more after his senior season. Kansas is his only other Power Five offer at the moment.
No. 16 Luke Pinnick, OL, West Marshall: Iowa State, Kansas and Northern Illinois have offered.
No. 17 Seth Malcom, LB, Fremont-Mills: An eight-player superstar with offers from Iowa State, Kansas State, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Is Pryce Sandfort a name Iowa or ISU fans should keep an eye on? — @brookesmith505
Other than Dowling Catholic wing Omaha Biliew, who's considered by some as a top-five national prospect in the 2023 class, Waukee freshman wing Pryce Sandfort is the best in-state 2023 prospect I've seen in person this season.
The younger brother of Iowa 2021 target Payton Sandfort, Pryce is already 6-foot-4 and will probably grow more; Payton is 6-7. Pryce is an active, long defender who plays with a toughness rare for someone his age.
His offense isn't quite at the same level yet, but that's normal for a freshman. Right now, he's mostly a 3-point shooter; 110 of his 147 shots have come from long range, and he's made 51 of them for a 46.4% clip. With his length, Sandfort also shows promise as a slashing wing who can finish around the trees at the basket.
Iowa's Fran McCaffery has seen him play several times (along with Payton Sandfort and Tucker DeVries). So, too, have the schools who have come to see Payton and DeVries: Drake, Minnesota, Utah, Stanford, Creighton and Oklahoma, to name a few.
Iowa State also likes Payton Sandfort and DeVries after watching them in an open gym this fall, so Cyclones coaches are no doubt aware of Pryce, too.
Should Iowa State have recruited Bowen Born?
In a recent column, Randy Peterson mentioned he received this question via email after Iowa State's road loss to Oklahoma State, and I've seen this question in one form or another plenty of times this season, too.
So let's address it.
Should Iowa State have heavily recruited Norwalk point guard Bowen Born, the Northern Iowa signee who's torching Iowa high schools this year to the tune of 37.5 points per game?
The answer: It depends on Iowa State's class size.
If Iowa State had a small class, I understand why'd they pass. That few openings, you need to make sure you hit on those recruits.
(The Cyclones currently have a four-player class and they feel good about their evaluations.)
But if Iowa State ends up signing five or six in this class due to offseason movement, it's fair to question whether it would have been prudent to make room for Born, who picked UNI over Drake, Indiana State, Bowling Green, Toledo and South Dakota. He also held interest from Iowa and Creighton.
In that case, he's worth taking a chance on — he has the most important trait in basketball: He's an elite shooter from deep. (This same argument can be made for Iowa, by the way.)
But that said, it's not a mystery why more schools, including Iowa State, didn't go after Born, either: his size. He's a lean 5-11, so there's reason to believe he could struggle against bigger guards, especially in a conference like the Big 12. Heck, I talked to a mid-major coach whose staff didn't pursue Born for the same reason.
Now is that a good reason?
That remains to be seen. Behind the scenes, mid-major coaches who were fully pursuing Born quietly hoped that high-majors, such as Iowa and Creighton, didn't offer him because they felt Born would be a mid-major steal.
We have seen plenty of smaller guards have great success at high levels in college. Kihei Clark, Virginia's 5-9 guard, comes to mind. Another 5-9 guard and former Iowa State target, Tyler Harris, is doing good things at Memphis. And there was some Kentucky superstar named Tyler Ulis. Remember him?
Born is such an intriguing college basketball recruit. How will his blend of undeniable talent as a scorer and lack of ideal size play out at the next level?
Several college assistant coaches from the mid-major and high-major levels have told me they could see Born becoming one of those mid-major stars that bigger schools come to regret not offering down the line.
"He was smart in his decision to go to the level that he went to," one Division I assistant coach told me in January. "It will allow him to play closer to what he is doing now. He is a relentless worker and he has a high basketball IQ. He could be a four-year guy down the line ... that Power Five schools kick themselves for not taking a chance on him."
Your question is tricky. The real answer is, only time will tell.
How did Iowa's junior day go? — text group
This question comes from Chad Leistikow's text group, which I highly recommend for all Hawkeye fans out there.
Iowa football's junior day this past weekend didn't yield any commitments. But, with seven recruits already landed in 2021, it wasn't in dire need of another right now.
There was one offer that I saw: Texas freshman quarterback Chris Parson.
Plenty of in-state prospects attended, too — particularly juniors who are still working their ways onto college big boards: Johnston tight end Tyler Moore, Waukee defensive end Eddie Saidat, Dowling Catholic tight end Andrew Lentsch, Lake Mills linebacker Caleb Bacon, Davenport Central athlete Emarion Ellis (who's the Register's No. 5 in-state 2021 basketball prospect), Waukee defensive back Aaron White and Cedar Rapids Kennedy athlete Max White.
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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