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Recruiting mailbag: Grading Iowa State's transfer haul; new Iowa basketball targets

Matthew Bain
Des Moines Register

Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.

As always, feel free to send me questions over Twitter or to mbain@dmreg.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:

Assuming Iowa State will hold onto the last scholarship, what grade do you give Coach Prohm on off-season recruitment? — @kg4cy

Steve Prohm and his basketball staff entered this spring transfer recruiting season with a tall task: They needed to find at least three guys who wanted to be Cyclones, ideally ones who could play right away, and they needed to do that in the wake of a highly disappointing season that featured 20 losses and zero wins away from home.

For the first month or so, that task proved arduous.

Starting with point guard Tahj Eaddy (Santa Clara) on March 24 to forward Jacob Toppin (Rhode Island) on April 16, top target after top target kept committing elsewhere.

Then Tyler Harris entered the transfer portal and picked the Cyclones on April 25, giving Iowa State a major building block. Slowly, it added its final two 2020-21 roster additions from the portal in DePaul wing Jalen Coleman-Lands and Ole Miss wing Blake Hinson.

Memphis guard Tyler Harris (1) celebrates after defeating Tennessee 51-47 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, December 14, 2019.

Overall, let's give Prohm and the Cyclones a C+ for their offseason recruitment. That may sound harsh. Let me explain:

There's no denying Iowa State missed on a lot of top targets. Cal State Northridge point guard Terrell Gomez, Harvard point guard Bryce Aiken, Bowling Green point guard Justin Turner, Ohio State point guard D.J. Carton and Utah wing Both Gach, to name a few. Any school that needs to quickly fill three scholarships is going to pursue — and miss on — a lot of guys, and that's what happened with the Cyclones.

Iowa State could have done better in addressing needs. It needed an experienced point guard next year. Unless Harris gets immediate eligibility, that didn't happen. It also badly needed 3-point shooting. Their three additions shot 31.9%, 36.4% and 32.1% from long range last year — not eye-popping numbers. It would have liked more immediate help, too; Coleman-Lands is the only addition guaranteed to play next season.

With that said, there is a lot to like about the Cyclones' new recruits.

Harris is an excellent piece. He was a top-100, four-star prospect coming out of high school for a reason, and he was high on Iowa State's board. Put it this way: Essentially, Tyrese Haliburton wound up a Cyclone because Harris picked Memphis.

Coleman-Lands has a high upside. As a graduate transfer, he'll play immediately next year and will likely start. Iowa State needs long-range shooting next season, and that was Coleman-Lands' calling card coming out of high school. But, after shooting 42.2% on 3-pointers as a freshman at Illinois, his numbers have dropped. If Coleman-Lands can return to his 40% form, he will fill a big hole in Ames.

Hinson is versatile. He's a 6-foot-7 athlete with two years of starting experience at the high-major level. On paper, that's a big-time addition for Prohm.

So ... there was some good and some not-so-good in Iowa State's offseason recruiting. That comes out to about average to me.

Do you have any scoop on the (Tucker) DeVries and (Payton) Sandfort recruiting situations and how Drake fares? — @NickMcCargar

I texted with Waukee wings Tucker DeVries and Payton Sandfort — both major Drake targets — this week, and there's not a whole lot new to report.

Tucker, the son of Bulldogs coach Darian DeVries, said Drake, Creighton and Missouri are the three schools talking to him most often, although East Carolina recently reached out, too. Drake and Creighton offered long ago and have been considered the front-runners, but DeVries definitely has mutual interest with Cuonzo Martin and Missouri, which has not yet offered. DeVries' plan is to still (hopefully) wait until he can take visits in the fall before announcing a decision.

Sandfort said his decision date, which has been set for some time in the fall for a while, could fluctuate, now that it looks like there will be no live evaluation periods this summer. He has not released any finalist schools, but it would be fair to say his "top four" are Iowa, Utah, Drake and Minnesota.

Would love an update on Iowa and UNI basketball recruiting. — @cubsfan980

The Hawkeyes have been on somewhat of an offering spree lately.

(Or, as much of an offering spree as you can be, when the coronavirus has kept coaches from being able to evaluate prospects in person.) 

In the 2021 class, they offered three-star Kentucky big man Trey James on June 29. About a week earlier, Fran McCaffery offered a duo of Minnesota prospects in Waseca power forward Andrew Morgan and Stewartville three-star power forward Will Tschetter.

Back on June 2, Iowa offered Milwaukee three-star wing James Graham, who has since blown up and will wind up a four-star, top-75 prospect.

Nicolet forward James Graham puts up a three-pointer against Whitefish Bay.

As of now, Iowa won't need another five-recruit haul in 2021 like it did in 2020. So, if there was ever a time for recruiting to be hampered by a global pandemic, let's just say that now isn't the worst time in the world for that to happen for the Hawkeyes.

Northern Iowa has three 2021 offers out. One is to Tschetter, who has emerged as a high-major prospect this spring and summer. One is to Dubuque Hempstead wing Michael Duax, who is already committed to the Panthers. And one is to Cedar Falls big man Chase Courbat, who told me in late June that schools such as Princeton, Virginia Tech and South Dakota State were also involved. (But I would be surprised if he doesn't wind up at UNI.)

The Panthers have also been active this month in reaching out to in-state 2022 prospects, which they could begin doing on June 15. Some prospects they contacted include Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln shooting guard Josh Dix (who holds offers from Drake and South Dakota State), Boyden-Hull point guard Tanner Te Slaa (who holds offers from South Dakota, South Dakota State and Augustana), Dallas Center-Grimes shooting guard Cole Glasgow, Cedar Falls point guard Trey Campbell, Clear Lake point guard Carson Toebe and Ballard shooting guard Ashton Hermann.

Possible targets for Iowa to round out the class, I know a few linemen look likely but what about RB and TE targets? — @BenFlaherty21

The main new Iowa football recruiting target to watch is Colorado three-star tight end Gunnar Helm, whom the Hawkeyes offered on June 19. He's got a good frame at 6-5 and 225 pounds, and his offer sheet is impressive — Georgia, Texas and Penn State have all offered since June.

Here's the biggest reason to keep an eye on him, though: Helm plays for Cherry Creek High School in the Denver suburbs. That's the alma mater of current Hawkeye redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Padilla.

Running back will be a position to monitor moving forward for Iowa, as their top two remaining targets at that position — Mar'Keise Irving and Ricky Parks — picked Minnesota and Utah, respectively, in the past couple months. After Parks' commitment last week, Iowa now has no known offers out to available 2021 running backs. Iowa does have a need at that position in 2021, though, so we'll see which new targets start to emerge in the coming months.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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