Recruiting Mailbag: Is Iowa recruiting Aidan Shaw? Iowa State transfer portal targets; Xavier Foster to Drake?

Matthew Bain Alyssa Hertel
Des Moines Register

Hi, everyone. Welcome, once again, to the Recruiting Mailbag.

A lot to get to this week, as we start to navigate our way through college basketball free agency, otherwise known as the NCAA transfer portal season. (Although thank you to the reader who asked about J.J. Kohl. A football question in the sea of basketball!)

First, a quick note on a notable in-state product in the portal.

Northern Iowa forward Noah Carter, a Dubuque Senior graduate, has trimmed his long list of high-major interest to a final five of Virginia Tech, Missouri, Marquette, Arkansas and Florida. He told the Register he wants to take visits, so he's tentatively looking at a late-April decision, after he finishes all his visits.

MORE: Is Iowa State focusing on Ankeny quarterback J.J. Kohl in 2023 class?

And we'll get to former Iowa State forward Xavier Foster, an Oskaloosa graduate, later in the mailbag.

Now, let's get to this week's questions.

Aidan Shaw has reopened his recruitment after Missouri, where he originally committed, fired head coach Cuonzo Martin.

Is Iowa recruiting Aidan Shaw?

As of Thursday at 9:24 a.m. Central Time, when four-star Kansas wing Aidan Shaw sent me a message on Twitter, no, Iowa was not recruiting him and had not reached out to him since he was released from his NLI with Missouri on March 17.

"As of yet no," he wrote.

Iowa made the final five for the rangy 6-foot-8 small forward alongside Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Maryland. Shaw officially visited all five schools in June and committed to Cuonzo Martin's Tigers in September, but reopened his recruitment after Martin was fired following the season.

It makes sense why Hawkeye fans would ask about Shaw. You got close to a top-60 national talent in the summer, so why not take another swing now that he's back on the market? Especially since he's built in the mold of Keegan Murray, and Iowa did pretty dang well with him.

Just because Shaw said Iowa hasn't reached out yet doesn't mean it won't, although other schools have a two-week head start. I'm guessing the lack of contact from the Hawkeyes thus far means they're focused elsewhere for their 2022-23 roster. Could it also be a stamp of approval for Kris Murray, who plays Shaw's position, to be "the guy" next year?

More on 2022-23 roster construction later. - Matthew Bain

Is Iowa State recruiting any big men in the transfer portal?

Yes, Iowa State is currently recruiting a big man in the portal.

And a small(er) one.

The big one is Wright State forward Grant Basile, a 6-9 graduate transfer from just outside Milwaukee (hello, T.J. Otzelberger and J.R. Blount) who was a two-year starter in the Horizon League, averaging 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game this past season.

Iowa State is recruiting Wright State transfer Grand Basile.

He is thought of as one of the top available transfers and Notre Dame is another school reportedly making a strong push. The Cyclones have conducted a Zoom recruiting visit with Basile, a source with direct knowledge of Iowa State recruiting told me, so that's a positive sign for Iowa State's chances.

Iowa State is also recruiting Temple guard Jeremiah Williams, a versatile 6-5 perimeter player and two-year starter who averaged 9.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game this season. Williams is a Chicago product who played AAU alongside former Iowa State target D.J. Steward with Nike Meanstreets. The Cyclones looked at Williams a bit out of high school, but nothing super serious.

More:How did Iowa State men's basketball recruits perform during the 2021-22 season?

Now, Iowa State is among the main schools recruiting Williams, alongside Illinois, DePaul, Xavier, BYU, Loyola Chicago and others. The same source told me the Cyclones have also conducted a Zoom recruiting visit with Williams, so that means there's legitimate mutual interest here. - Matthew Bain

Any updates on J.J. Kohl? When does he plan to commit?

The last time we checked in with Ankeny’s high three-star quarterback JJ Kohl, he was still focused on helping the Hawks’ basketball team to the state tournament. Ankeny did make it to the Wells Fargo Arena but lost in the opening round to eventual Class 4A runner-up Johnston.

As a refresher, the 6-6 pro-style quarterback held offers at the time from Iowa State, Iowa, Boston College, Florida State, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State and Pittsburgh. Since I talked to Kohl in mid-February, Illinois and Wisconsin also extended offers.

With the basketball season behind him, Kohl is back to focusing on football. While he wants to try and take some visits before he makes his decision, it’s not like he suddenly has a ton of free time on his hands.

Ankeny quarterback J.J. Kohl has blossomed into one of the country's top 2023 prospects.

“It’s really difficult, I’m not gonna lie,” Kohl told me. “It’s hard with 7-on-7 on the weekends, then we have track, then you throw school in there. It’s not easy to get away for these visits.”

There have been a lot of conversations in the Kohl household about which schools stick out and if it makes sense to work a visit into Kohl’s schedule. One of the biggest things he told me is that he’s investing his time in the teams that are actively showing interest and taking their time to make him a recruiting priority.

What programs are doing that with Kohl? He said the schools reaching out the most are Iowa State, Minnesota, Penn State and Illinois. Kohl also said that Wisconsin, Kansas, Mississippi State and Pitt are still showing strong interest, but it’s not as much as the first four.

I asked him if Iowa State, Minnesota, Penn State and Illinois are at the top of his list because of the interactions he’s having with them, and Kohl agreed “that would be safe to say.”

So, the big question: When will Kohl make a decision? Nothing is set in stone right now, but he is starting to see the light at the end of a very long recruiting tunnel.

Ankeny quarterback JJ Kohl practices at Ankeny High School, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

“Hopefully, I’ll be committed some time this spring,” Kohl said. “Ideally, I’d like to be committed in April. But then again, crazy things can happen. Things could change, but as of right now, I would like to commit some time in April.”

With his decision on the horizon, Kohl should be able to focus solely on Ankeny football come the fall. He’ll have a new teammate in his senior season in Des Moines Roosevelt transfer Jamison Patton. The two top recruits have been friends for some time, and they share a 7-on-7 team in the offseason.

For Kohl, 7-on-7 has been a great way to work on his fundamentals and train in lieu of spring football, which Iowa high schools don’t have. Now, with Patton on his 7-on-7 and high school teams, this is a bit of a spring training moment for Kohl’s newest receiver.

“There are a lot of good things that we can work on, just from his point at receiver/defensive back and my point as a quarterback,” Kohl said. “Every time I’m out there, I’m working on my reads, I’m working on my timing, I’m working on my accuracy. I’m working on looking off defenders.

“Jamison, me and him are getting a lot of chemistry together. He’s working a lot on his steps, his route-running. At DB, he’s working on reading eyes, flipping his hips, all that stuff. So, 7-on-7 has been really beneficial for the both of us, and it gives us an outlet of something to do football wise in the spring.” - Alyssa Hertel

What are the chances Drake lands Joe Toussaint and Xavier Foster?

I was told on Thursday that there was "zero chance" Iowa point guard transfer Joe Toussaint was going to Drake and that he'll likely wind up closer to his home in the Bronx, New York. The Bulldogs were reportedly one of the initial schools to contact Toussaint when he entered the transfer portal this week.

Now, I didn't hear that quote from Toussaint, himself, so I've learned to always keep doors open in recruiting ... but it sounds doubtful Toussaint winds up a Bulldog. St. John's, which is in Queens, New York, feels like the leader in the clubhouse here.

As for Xavier Foster, the impression I've gotten is that he's mainly looking at options outside of Iowa. Remember when he said he was thinking of playing some place warmer next year after he was cleared in the 2020 Iowa State sexual assault investigation?

Yeah ... it's sounding like he was serious about that.

This is the group of schools Foster's father, DaJuan Foster, told me have reached out to his son: TCU, Drake, SIU, Cincinnati, Prairie View A&M, Missouri, Alabama A&M, Fordham, Creighton, Kent State, Dayton, Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Utah Valley, Cal Baptist and Arizona State.

The out-of-state preference would knock out Drake. Now let's remove any schools in states that could be deemed "cold-weather" states, like Iowa. With those considerations, here's a potential final suitors list for Foster ...

TCU, Prairie View A&M (in Texas), Alabama A&M, Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Cal Baptist and Arizona State. Florida International has a track record of recruiting Pure Prep AAU guys, too. If Foster winds up picking a school from this group, I will be forced to quit journalism and become a detective to better utilize my skills.

As for when a commitment may come? DaJuan Foster told me they're waiting to see how the coaching carousel unwinds, and then they'll make a decision. - Matthew Bain

How involved is Iowa in the transfer portal right now?

Fran McCaffery has been very open in multiple interviews, including a lengthy sit-down with our Chad Leistikow, that he wants to add a big man from the transfer portal, even though Filip Rebraca has said he's coming back for another year.

Iowa has been publicly connected to Fardaws Aimaq, the Canadian 6-11 Utah Valley transfer who quickly became one of the hottest commodities in the transfer portal after he entered on March 18. He's reportedly down to a final five of Iowa, Kentucky, Texas Tech, Washington and Arkansas. His 2021-22 numbers are ridiculous: 18.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per game while shooting 43.5% from long range.

He had 27 double-doubles this year. Twenty-seven. 

Utah Valley center Fardaws Aimaq (11) and BYU forward Fousseyni Traore (45) battle for position under the boards in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Orem, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

If Aimaq commits elsewhere, one name worth watching could be Murray State big man K.J. Williams, who entered the portal earlier this week and is sure to receive interest from across the country if he pulls his name from the NBA Draft pool.

It also appears McCaffery is at least taking a look at the portal to bolster his backcourt depth, now that Toussaint is in the transfer portal. Indiana transfer Rob Phinisee has reportedly heard from Iowa, Cincinnati, Purdue, UNLV, Ohio State, Bradley and Cal. 

Phinisee, a former four-star 2018 recruit out of Lafayette, Indiana, started his first three seasons at Indiana before coming off the bench this past season, averaging 4.5 points and 1.7 assists in 18.3 minutes per game. The 6-1 talent entering his fifth season of college basketball would immediately challenge for the starting point guard job at Iowa, along with Ahron Ulis and incoming freshman Dasonte Bowen.

More:How did Iowa basketball recruits perform during the 2021-22 season?

Nijel Pack could also be a name to keep an eye on. The first-team All-Big 12 point guard was recruited pretty heavily by Iowa coming out of Lawrence Central in Indianapolis in the 2020 class, but it never extended an offer. So the relationships are there. Pack will surely get interest from just about anywhere he wants, and CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein tweeted out a list Friday that included the likes of Gonzaga, Arizona, Purdue and Tennessee. But if Iowa is truly looking to add a point guard from the transfer portal, Pack feels like he's worth a call. - Matthew Bain