Recruiting mailbag: What's the latest with Payton Sandfort and Tucker DeVries?
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:
Always looking for great news for Drake men’s BB! Specifically Tucker (DeVries) and Payton (Sandfort)! — @sfan_b
I chatted with both players this week, and there are plenty of updates from Waukee wings Tucker DeVries and Payton Sandfort, the Register's top two in-state prospects in the 2021 class.
Starting with DeVries ...
For the longest time, DeVries had Drake and Creighton as his main two schools. Now, the 6-foot-6 son of Drake head coach Darian DeVries has a third school in the mix — and it's not Florida, which extended an offer last week.
It's Iowa State.
Over the past two weeks, after his excellent performances this summer with the OSA Crusaders, DeVries has received strong interest from the Cyclones. That has come in the form of a lot of texts from head coach Steve Prohm and a phone call from Prohm on Tuesday night, DeVries told me. He also said he and his family will have a Zoom call with Prohm on Wednesday. DeVries does not currently hold an Iowa State offer.
"They’ve definitely moved up since the beginning of summer," he said.
Iowa State first expressed interest in DeVries after watching him during an open gym this past fall. Communication faded after that, until a couple weeks ago. DeVries plays his AAU ball with Omaha combo guard Hunter Sallis, arguably the Cyclones' top 2021 target, and coaches likely were impressed by DeVries while watching Sallis.
"They’re trying to say that it’s the Big 12, closer games, obviously a higher level and better competition than Drake," DeVries said of what the Cyclones are telling him. "They agree with the fact that going mid-major or high-major is not going to change who I am beyond college, but it’s really just the college experience and the difference between going to the Bahamas in those preseason tournaments and playing for Big 12 titles and all that stuff. It’s definitely cool to hear."
DeVries was the lone junior on last year's All-Iowa Elite Team after averaging 21.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game as Waukee's point guard while shooting 55.8% overall and 48.1% from 3-point range.
The idea of playing high-major basketball close to home is appealing to DeVries.
"If I went to Creighton, it’d be a lot of East Coast games that aren't quite as seeable for family and friends," DeVries said. "Being local, I’d definitely have a lot of people involved and still be at that high-major level. Drake is just not high-major, but it’s still home."
Now that DeVries is confident he's narrowed his choices down, and now that it appears fall official visits won't be able to happen, DeVries said he may move his decision date up to this fall or winter, although he still reserves the option of waiting until spring if he isn't 100% confident in his decision.
The appeal of playing for his dad at Drake, with players and coaches that have become family to DeVries, is quite strong. It's up to Creighton, and potentially Iowa State, to provide good enough reasons to play elsewhere.
"If I didn’t go to Drake, it would definitely have to be something that would pull me away — that I’d really, 100% want to be there," DeVries said.
Now let's go to Sandfort ...
Sandfort, a 6-7 wing who can play 1-4, told me that, while Virginia, Virginia Tech and Butler have reached out to his AAU coaches in recent weeks, he is essentially down to a final five of Iowa, Stanford, Utah, Drake and Minnesota.
He and his family are currently in the process of narrowing that list even further. He told me he had a Zoom call with Iowa on Tuesday and Stanford not long before that.
"We’re weighing a lot of things," Sandfort said, "from how familiar we are with the school, the coaching staff, players, play style, how I would fit in, proximity to home if that really matters to me, and then the education side of it — trying to find a major that I’ll really like when the ball stops bouncing."
(Sandfort wants to major in business and communications, by the way, so he can be a sports broadcaster after his playing career.)
Iowa and Stanford would have to be considered the front-runners here. Maybe Drake slides in as a dark horse if DeVries commits to the Bulldogs and pulls Sandfort with him. But, right now, smart money would be on the Hawkeyes or the Cardinal.
Iowa was Sandfort's first offer back in June 2019. The Hawkeyes' recent message to Sandfort has been very clear: You are our top 2021 target.
"They keep stressing that. They say that I’m their main guy that they want and if they got me then they’d look at it as a really good class," Sandfort told me. "They’re comparing me to guys like (Jarrod) Uthoff and (Joe) Wieskamp right now, just kind of coming in and replacing him a little bit. In terms of play style, I’d go 1 through the 4. If I get a rebound, I can just bring it — just kind of like high school now."
Stanford offered Sandfort in late July, but the coaching staff has been in contact for about a year now. There's always been strong mutual interest here because Sandfort is as good a student as he is a basketball prospect.
Due to COVID-19, Sandfort hasn't been able to visit Stanford's campus. So he's had plenty of Zoom calls with the staff and has gotten to know some of the current players.
Originally, Sandfort was hoping to make his decision after fall official visits. That might not be able to happen anymore, so Sandfort will likely have to make his decision based on the information he currently has.
He hopes to announce a decision before the high school basketball season.
"I don’t know if it will be possible for us to take visits, so right now we’re just planning to kind of look past that and do what we can without it," Sandfort said.
With Iowa State losing its QB commit, what are some names you could see them either flipping from other schools or uncommitted kids they might pursue? — @LoganLittle_10
In case you missed it: Three-star Texas quarterback Charles Wright flipped his commitment from Iowa State to Texas last week after receiving a Longhorns offer.
That means Iowa State is once again looking for its 2021 quarterback.
It already has an offer out to Iowa City West three-star dual-threat quarterback Marcus Morgan, who told me on Tuesday that he's heard from the Cyclones since Wright's decommitment. Morgan, a 6-3, 180-pound athlete who could also play Division I baseball and basketball, holds other football offers from Grambling State, Toledo, Northern Iowa, Dartmouth, Ball State and Central Michigan. He also holds baseball offers from Iowa and Penn State.
I also wouldn't be surprised if the Cyclones kept an eye this fall on Ankeny three-star quarterback Jase Bauer, who holds offers from Eastern Illinois, UNI, Southern Illinois and South Dakota State, plus heavy interest from Wyoming. He told me last week that he has remained in contact with Iowa State quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon, and he told me on Wednesday he had heard from the Cyclones since Wright decommitted.
Some other names to keep an eye on ...
Three-star South Dakota quarterback Chase Mason told me Gordon and Iowa State player personnel director Derek Hoodjer reached out to him a couple days ago to express interest. Mason is a 6-4, 210-pound athlete who holds offers from Fresno State, South Dakota and South Dakota State.
Three-star Ohio quarterback Cade Rice told me the Cyclones asked for his film this week and that his high school coach said Iowa State coaches have called to ask about him a few times recently. Rice, a 6-3, 200-pounder, holds offers from Illinois State, Bryant, Bucknell, Elon, Fordham and Rhode Island.
Three-star Rice quarterback recruit Shawqi Itraish told me he has been in recent contact with Hoodjer. A 6-3, 190-pound Florida product, Itraish also held offers from Buffalo, Appalachian State, Brown, Columbia, UConn, Dartmouth, Fordham, Furman, Harvard, Kent State, Mercer, Miami of Ohio, UNI, Penn, South Dakota, Tennessee State, Utah State, UT Martin, UAB, Yale, Western Kentucky and Western Carolina.
Hoodjer has also recently followed three-star California prospect Walker Eget, three-star Texas prospect Maddox Kopp, California prospect Davis Warren, three-star North Texas recruit Bryce Drummond and Northern Arizona recruit R.J. Martinez on Twitter.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
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