Recruiting Mailbag: Josh Dix talks injury and rehab, Pryce Sandfort vs. Tamin Lipsey, Iowa football targets

Matthew Bain
Des Moines Register

It's been a long time since I typed this: Welcome, once again, to the Recruiting Mailbag.

Matthew Bain here. We haven't done one of these for a while because I was hired as our deputy sports editor back in July, and I wanted our new recruiting reporter, Alyssa Hertel, to get her feet wet before we got back to doing these full time.

Well, her feet are plenty wet. Alyssa has done a fantastic job hitting the ground running and familiarizing herself with this state's recruiting scene over the past six months, and I've found a good balance of editing and some reporting now that I've got half a year's experience in this new job.

We'll divvy up the questions each week, and you'll know who answered which question because it'll say - Alyssa Hertel or - Matthew Bain at the end of each.

As usual, we'll send a Twitter call-out for Recruiting Mailbag questions every Monday. You can comment there or direct message us or email us your questions. But don't feel like you have to wait until that Monday call for questions to ask us anything. Our DMs and inboxes are always open.

With that said, let's get back to the good stuff.

What's next for Josh Dix after his injury?

I talked with Iowa basketball signee and Council Bluffs Lincoln star Josh Dix on Wednesday, five days removed from suffering a broken tibia and fibula in the Lynx's Friday night win over Le Mars.

The 6-foot-4 combo guard, our No. 1 in-state 2022 prospect and No. 1 overall player in the state, got home from the hospital on Monday. He said he had a successful 4½-hour surgery Saturday to align his two broken bones and that he is on bed rest until Feb. 7.

From then on, the rehab process begins.

And that process could be quicker than what the gruesome nature of the injury might make you think.

"They said I should definitely be back, full recovery," Dix told me. "They said I’ll probably be able to jump and stuff like that after about three months."

Dix said doctors told him he could be back to full basketball activity by next fall, and that he should be able to perform in individual workouts in Iowa City this summer. Seeing players like Paul George recover so well from the same injury and return to form, or even better, has helped reassure him during what has been a trying week.

"For sure. Just knowing that as hard as I work is what I’ll get out of it," Dix said. "So just work hard through (physical) therapy and stuff and get back to how I was and come back even better than I was is definitely the goal."

So ... what actually happened when he was injured?

MORE: Josh Dix: Here's why I'm committing to Iowa basketball

Josh Dix plays an AAU basketball game with OSA Crusaders in 2021.

With 1:45 left in the game and Lincoln leading Le Mars 52-33, Dix told me he went up to block a shot and got his feet tangled with the Le Mars player on the way down. He said he landed "wrong" and realized he couldn't feel his right foot. So he looked down ...

"And then I just saw it," Dix said. "It was crazy. It was one of those moments where I was in shock. I didn’t even know how to react. It was just like the lower half of my leg was facing a totally different way than the top. It was sad because I knew that my season was done, that my high school career was over."

A trainer immediately rushed to Dix's side and called the paramedics, who came and transported Dix to the hospital Friday night. He had to wait until Saturday morning to have surgery, though, because he was so sweaty from the game and doctors worried about the sweat causing infection during the procedure.

So, at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning, surgeons used a nail to realign his fractured tibia, the larger of the two leg bones. Dix said they were able to realign the smaller fibula before surgery, so that bone didn't need to be worked on.

Council Bluffs Lincoln's Josh Dix makes a basket during 4A quarterfinals between Ames and Council Bluffs Lincoln on March 10, 2021.

Dix said he was, obviously, pretty out of it on Friday and Saturday, and he didn't have his phone with him. When he opened his phone on Sunday, he was overwhelmed with the support and well wishes.

"A lot of players that I’m pretty close with, a lot of my teammates (reached out)," he told me. "Coaches from all over, even coaches that were recruiting me from the schools I didn’t go to, just wishing me the best of luck and knowing that I’ll get through it."

Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw has been in touch with Dix every day since the injury, Dix said, and he had a phone call with head coach Fran McCaffery on Sunday.

"He has a lot of confidence in me to return to what I was," Dix said of McCaffery. "Fran just told me to be patient with it and don’t rush or anything like that. He said, 'We’ll need you next year, so don’t rush it and take as much time as you need to get through this.'"

Dix said the moment he broke his leg was surreal — that it was just one of those moments that make you think, "Damn," as you realize what really happened.

But he plans to do everything he can to make this injury a blip on his radar.

"It will definitely feel long," Dix said of his rehab. "But in the outcome of everything, it will just be a little chapter in my life story. So it’s all good." - Matthew Bain

More:Iowa signee Josh Dix broke his tibia and fibula Friday night, the same injury Paul George suffered in 2014

Is Iowa football looking at any more 2022 additions that aren't PWOs?

Iowa football is still in pursuit of a handful of targets for its 2022 recruiting class.

Perhaps the most notable and longstanding one is Hunter Nourzad, the Cornell graduate transfer offensive lineman who earlier this month announced a final five of Iowa, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Illinois and Penn State. The Georgia native is in the process of visiting all five this month, and I confirmed with him Tuesday that he still plans to officially visit Iowa this weekend.

Another transfer target to know is is Steven Stilianos, a graduate transfer tight end out of Lafayette. The 6-5, 250-pounder who played quarterback in high school has taken visits to Virginia and Rutgers, and Pitt is also involved. Sounds like the Virginia native may be leaning toward his East Coast options, but anything can happen.

Miami of Ohio defensive end transfer Kameron Butler landed an Iowa offer Wednesday night. He just entered the transfer portal this week and has already picked up other offers from Virginia, Ole Miss and Penn State. He's a product of Covington Catholic, a school technically in Kentucky but that sits closest to Cincinnati. 

One other name to keep an eye on is Marshall Howe, a former 2021 quarterback from California who reclassified to 2022 and transferred to Avon Old Farms in Connecticut after COVID-19 shifted California's 2020 season to the spring and limited his exposure. 

The 6-1, 195-pounder's lone Division I offer is from Davidson, but he's a quality quarterback whose recruitment was derailed by something out of his control. He told me he'll be visiting Iowa City this weekend and is receiving preferred walk-on interest from the Hawkeyes, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Minnesota. He'd be one of the more talented preferred walk-on quarterbacks out there. - Matthew Bain

More:Iowa girls basketball phenom Audi Crooks' recruitment is heating up. Here's the latest.

What was it like watching Tamin Lipsey and Pryce Sandfort battle in Ames vs. Waukee Northwest?

I've seen a lot of talented athletes in the few months since I moved to Iowa, and last Friday's game was no exception. I mean, we knew a matchup between Iowa State signee Tamin Lipsey and superstar junior Pryce Sandfort was going to be good and they did not disappoint. 

Lipsey and Sandfort could not have put on closer performances if they tried. Sandfort finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. Lipsey finished with 21 points, eight assists and five rebounds. And, sure, the stats are impressive. But how did they look?

Lipsey looks the part of a college basketball player. He's 6-2, but he's pretty physically developed and his vision against Waukee Northwest was a big part of the reason that the Little Cyclones pulled off a win. He's a fighter too, and not just in the way he came back from his ACL injury last year.

At 6-7, Sandfort obviously has the length to play at the next level. He's a clear on-court leader for the Wolves' young roster and nothing seems to faze him when he's playing. But what sets him apart is Sandfort's ability to shoot, from literally anywhere on the court. Lipsey knows that better than anyone.

"I don't know if we shut down his production," Lipsey told me after the game. "I don't think you're ever gonna be able to stop a player like that. You can just do as much as you can. Obviously, he had 27 points, so I think we can do a lot better. Give props to him for getting that and setting up a lot of his teammates."

Did anyone else feel like Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was a Super Bowl-caliber game? That's how this matchup between Ames and Waukee Northwest felt. It was like I was watching this year's Class 4A state title game. We'll get another glimpse of that when Ames travels to Waukee Northwest on Valentine's Day, and let's just say, I'm excited. - Alyssa Hertel

MORE: Tamin Lipsey: Here's why I'm committing to Iowa State basketball

Is Drake men's basketball still looking for 2022 additions? What's the latest with Sardaar Calhoun?

In case you missed it: I confirmed this week that Texas Tech guard Sardaar Calhoun had indeed transferred to Drake this week, and then Drake further confirmed the transfer by announcing it itself.

Calhoun won't be able to suit up for the Bulldogs this season, but coaches are hopeful he'll be eligible to play next fall.

A physical, 6-6 guard, Calhoun played in eight games for the Red Raiders this season, averaging 3.5 points in eight minutes per game. Perhaps the better assessment of his skills came last year, when he played in 25 games for Florida State and averaged 5.3 points in 14.2 minutes per game while shooting 39.7% from 3-point range.

Calhoun is a junior college product from Missouri-West Plains. Darian DeVries and his staff have hit some home runs in the juco market with D.J. Wilkins and Tremell and Anthony Murphy.

Drake currently has two incoming 2022 additions in Calhoun and high school signee Will Lovings-Watts, a three-star wing out of Indiana who probably could have played high-major ball. The Bulldogs now plan to wait until the spring recruiting market — aka see how enters the transfer portal — before deciding whether to add another 2022 player. - Matthew Bain

More:Drake basketball swipes overtime road win from Northern Iowa with strong closing push

Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at ahertel@dmreg.com or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.

Matthew Bain is the deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register. He still covers some recruiting, too. Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.