Recruiting Mailbag: So, Tyrese Hunter transferred. What's next for Iowa State basketball?
Hello, everyone. Welcome, once again, to the Recruiting Mailbag.
If you think the transfer portal offseason, otherwise known as college basketball free agency, has been wild so far, things could heat up even more in the coming days.
That's because April 24 is the cutoff date for players to enter their names in the NBA Draft pool. That means lots of talented athletes have just a couple days to decide if they want to test the NBA waters and get some professional feedback. And lots — not all, but lots — of the players entering their names in the NBA Draft are also entering the portal.
See: Northern Iowa guard AJ Green, who on Wednesday did both of those things.
So, yeah, it's been wild. It could maybe get even wilder in the coming days.
With that said, let's get to this week's questions, which focus on Iowa State's recruiting plans after Tyrese Hunter's departure, updates on Xavier Foster's recruitment, the latest with Iowa and Fardaws Aimaq, and if NIL money will affect Omaha Biliew's decision.
Alyssa Hertel has been on vacation the past few days, so it's just me this week.
So, Tyrese Hunter transferred. What's next for Iowa State?
When Iowa State star freshman point guard Tyrese Hunter entered the transfer portal, coaches from blue-bloods and juggernaut programs around the country smiled.
Obviously, Cyclones coaches did not.
But it also doesn't sound like there's been a sense of panic within the program. Yes, it sucks to lose Hunter, an eventual NBA-bound talent who led Iowa State to the Sweet 16 as a freshman. Imagine what he could have done with a couple more seasons.
Transfers are a part of modern college basketball now, though. The Cyclones know this as well as anyone. The 2021-22 team and its results would look a whole lot different without Penn State transfer Izaiah Brockington or Minnesota transfer Gabe Kalscheur.
So, what's next for Iowa State?
Well, assistant coach Kyle Green's son just entered the transfer portal. As I mentioned in the intro, UNI guard AJ Green announced Wednesday he was entering the portal and testing the NBA Draft waters. He said returning to UNI was an option, but that feels unlikely at this point.
I know I'd written previously that I was told Green likely wouldn't transfer to Iowa State, because I was indeed told that by a source with direct knowledge of Cyclones recruiting who's consistently provided accurate info. But ... things change in recruiting. All the time. As of today, yes, there's obviously Iowa State buzz here for a reason.
Here's a theoretical look at Iowa State's projected 2022-23 lineup of guards if Green does choose to play another college season and does so in Ames, and if he's the final guard transfer Iowa State takes: Green, Caleb Grill, Kalscheur, Temple transfer Jeremiah Williams, freshman Tamin Lipsey and freshman Eli King.
In other news, Ohio forward transfer Ben Vander Plas took his visit to Iowa State this week and a decision is expected soon. The Wisconsin native has also reportedly visited Virginia and Wisconsin. He's a 6-foot-8 stretch forward who averaged 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 33.8% from 3-point range this year.
Wright State big man transfer Grant Basile is also still expected to officially visit Iowa State April 30-May 1. The 6-9 Milwaukee native is thought to be down to Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Basile averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last year.
And, in case you missed it, VCU forward transfer Hason Ward committed to Iowa State following his official visit this past weekend. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last year.
Are there any Xavier Foster updates?
Yes there are.
Former Oskaloosa and Iowa State forward Xavier Foster has scheduled an official visit to SMU for April 29-May 1, his father, DaJuan Foster, told me. He said they're still looking to lock in one or two more visits, then decide in May.
Dallas certainly has warmer weather than Iowa, which is something Foster said he'd be looking for in a new school.
Other schools who have shown Foster interest include: TCU, Drake, Southern Illinois, Cincinnati, Prairie View A&M, Missouri, Alabama A&M, Fordham, Florida International, Creighton, Kent State, Dayton, Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Utah Valley, Cal Baptist and Arizona State. Foster is looking to play out of state, so that has ruled out Drake
What's the latest with Iowa and Fardaws Aimaq?
As of Thursday morning at 9:49 a.m. Central Time, Iowa had not yet locked in an official visit with Utah Valley big man transfer Fardaws Aimaq, but it sounds like it could just be a matter of days (or hours) now. I was told this morning there's things in motion and that there's hope the visit dates will be etched in stone soon.
So, sorry if that's not the concrete info you're looking for. But Aimaq is taking things slowly here. And he can afford to. When you're arguably the most sought-after post player in the transfer portal, you get to do things at your own pace.
Will NIL money play a role in Omaha Biliew's decision?
Yes and no.
Everything I've heard from Omaha Biliew's camp the past two years is the same thing I've been hearing this week: The five-star 2023 forward hopes to play one year of college basketball and then enter the NBA Draft.
So name, image and likeness compensation isn't nearly as much a factor in his decision as a school's ability to get him to the NBA. Essentially: The plan is to be on campus for like eight months, so don't let NIL money distract you from picking the place that will help you make a whole lot more money in the NBA.
That doesn't mean NIL isn't a factor at all, though. Just not the primary concern. Tyler Sass, Biliew's personal coach, told me the schools recruiting Biliew, who played his first two seasons in Iowa before transferring to Link Year Prep for his junior season, have incorporated potential NIL earnings into their recruiting pitches. He also said the versatile 6-8 forward will sign with an independent agency for NIL, so there will be opportunities with that.
Iowa State is considered one of the main contenders for Biliew, a consensus top-10 national prospect who Sass told me will take official visits in June and announce a commitment in July. Other schools thought to be in the mix include Oklahoma State, Oregon, LSU, Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas and Tennessee.
Matthew Bain is the deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register. He still covers some recruiting, too. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.