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Recruiting mailbag: How could no Big Ten season affect Iowa football recruiting?

Matthew Bain
Des Moines Register

Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.

So, who had President Trump calling Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren on their bingo card? Put your hand down, because no you didn't.

The President involving himself in college athletics was just one of the many intriguing topics in local and national sports this week. His call to Warren will get referenced later in this mailbag, as well as questions about a high-level Iowa State basketball target from Chicago and which in-state 2023 prospects (not named Omaha Biliew and Pryce Sandfort) the Cyclones and Hawkeyes should keep their eyes on.

Let's get to the answers:

What is Iowa’s plan for entertaining recruits this fall without football? 

This is a great question from @echartertrack and one that programs throughout the Big Ten, Pac-12 and all other non-playing conferences are trying to figure out.

Here's a critical component: As of now, prospects will not be able to visit college campuses in a recruiting capacity through the end of September due to the coronavirus outbreak. Could they buy tickets and attend a game? Sure. But they'd be members of the crowd, not unofficial game-day visitors who get to tour the facilities, talk with coaches and all that jazz.

Fans fill Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 1, 2018. There will be no fans filling Kinnick this September, as the Big Ten has postponed its fall football season.

So, in that sense, Iowa isn't really at a disadvantage compared to schools in the Big 12, ACC or SEC. They'll all be recruiting guys the same way — through Zoom and FaceTime and texts and phone calls and Twitter direct messages.

I also haven't seen much about prospects ruling out Big Ten or Pac-12 schools just because they aren't playing this fall. The only noise I've heard about that came from Geoff Ketchum of Rivals' OrangeBloods.com, who tweeted this on Aug. 11: "Heard from a Big 10 coach overnight that I've known for 20 years that the conference being blamed for shutting down the sport is already impacting recruiting. One top 2021 target told this coach's staff that he would go to a school in a conference that 'supports football'."

The main disadvantage for Iowa and the rest of the Big Ten could happen if the NCAA loosens restrictions after September and allows on-campus recruiting visits.

At that point, you figure Iowa could bring recruits on campus and show them the facilities and campus, have them talk to Kirk Ferentz and position coaches and get a feel for the team. But there's nothing like attending a football game to truly sense what it would be like to be part of a program. If you don't think attending a game at a jam-packed Kinnick Stadium has helped sway recruits to pick Iowa, you're kidding yourself.

Then you factor in the Big Ten is reportedly deliberating on a Thanksgiving start to its season. How would that fit into the NCAA's recruiting calendar? Starting at that time would mean the Big Ten would have games during the late-December-through-early-January weeks, which have traditionally been dead recruiting periods for football — which would mean no on-campus visits.

Would the the NCAA adjust the calendar due to this novel virus throwing a wrench in the recruiting world?

Also, will Big Ten and Pac-12 players  be more likely to use the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted all fall student-athletes, compared to their counterparts in the Big 12, ACC and SEC, who are playing a fall season? And would that create more of a logjam on Big Ten and Pac-12 rosters for 2021 recruits to consider?

And now President Trump talked with Warren and is pushing him to start football sooner rather than later?

... What a time to be alive, folks.

It will be very interesting to see how this all unfolds over the coming months.

Here's the bottom line: The Hawkeyes are likely discussing this topic, but I don't think they're panicking about it at this point.

With Iowa State making Bryce Hopkins' new final list, how realistic is he to commit to ISU and a little more information on him?

In case you missed it: Four-star Chicago 2021 forward Bryce Hopkins, a former Louisville recruit, included Iowa State in his top nine last Sunday alongside Illinois, Kentucky, Cal, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Providence and Texas.

Iowa State extended Hopkins his eighth offer in June 2019 and re-entered his recruiting landscape after he decommitted from Louisville on Aug. 9.

Since then, the 6-foot-7 product of Fenwick High has tacked on offers from Oregon, Notre Dame, Providence, Michigan, Kentucky, South Carolina and DePaul.

Most industry buzz has Hopkins picking John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats. I don't see any prevailing reason to doubt that, at the moment. But one Chicago source who I've talked to through the years doesn't think Hopkins-to-Kentucky is a slam dunk.

Jerrel Oliver, director of Chicago-based AAU program Team Rose, told me, if he had to guess, he'd predict Hopkins winds up at a Big Ten or Big 12 school.

Although it may seem slim, Oliver thinks Iowa State has a chance because Hopkins plays a lot like a former Cyclone now in the NBA.

"When you see Bryce, you see a 6-7 THT (Talen Horton-Tucker)," said Oliver, who coached Horton-Tucker when he played for Team Rose. "Similar make-up."

Chicago four-star prospect Bryce Hopkins recently included Iowa State in his top nine schools.

Take that as you will.

Hopkins recently told Joe Henricksen of the Chicago Sun-Times he is in no rush to make another commitment after decommitting from Louisville within the past month. He estimated he'll make a decision by around mid-season.

"I’m looking for a great coaching staff for when things get hard, that I’m going to have somebody who is there to pick me up," Hopkins told Henricksen. “I want to have a coach who will push me to my fullest potential and hopefully help me get to the next level which is the NBA. Looking for an overall great basketball and college atmosphere."

Iowa State has a good presence in Chicago largely thanks to assistant coach Daniyal Robinson's reputation in the city. He and Steve Prohm made a huge splash in the 2018 class with Horton-Tucker, Zion Griffin and George Conditt.

Since then, however, the Cyclones haven't landed a prospect from the Windy City. They came closer than many thought with five-star combo guard D.J. Steward in 2020; they were working on scheduling an official visit to Ames when Steward decided to end his recruitment and commit to Duke.

My take: If you're a Cyclones fan, don't hold your breath for Hopkins. While anything is possible, there are other high-end prospects Iowa State is closer to landing at the moment — guys such as Memphis three-star wing Johnathan Lawson, where there's some buzz building in Memphis that Iowa State is a frontrunner; Florida four-star shooting guard Deebo Coleman; and Waukee three-star wing Tucker DeVries, who just landed his Iowa State offer last week and is the Register's No. 1 in-state 2021 prospect.

Iowa State has one recruit in its 2021 class: Milwaukee four-star point guard Tyrese Hunter, who picked the Cyclones from a top 10 that included Florida, Virginia Tech, Miami, Marquette, UConn, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Waukee's Tucker DeVries received an Iowa State offer last week.

Which 2023 basketball prospect who has not played varsity basketball yet is poised to break out this year?

It feels like the talent lately in the Cedar Falls basketball program is at an all-time high.

You had Northern Iowa star A.J. Green lead the Tigers to the state title three years ago. Then UNI receiver/walk-on basketball player Logan Wolf led them to a repeat two years ago. Three more Division I prospects are on the current roster — UNI recruit Chase Courbat, Landon Wolf and Trey Campbell.

And there's a promising 2023 name rising up the ranks, too.

Dallas Bear, a 6-7 stretch forward, is poised for a big sophomore season. He already holds offers from Bryant and Augustana, despite not playing varsity basketball as a freshman. One of his Iowa Barnstormer AAU coaches, Tanner Carlson, told me Bear is also receiving interest from South Dakota State, Liberty, Columbia, Creighton and UNI. He can shoot well from outside. He can rebound. He's versatile defensively. His length works wonders on both ends of the floor.

Cedar Falls rarely piles up points, so don't expect huge offensive numbers from Bear if there is a season this winter. But, if you watch their games or review their film, you'll see a productive, 6-7 sophomore with the pieces to be a mid-to-high-major forward.

...

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.

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 mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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