Iowa basketball: How two bad recruiting classes crushed the Hawks

The Iowa basketball team is back on the rise after two poor seasons caused by two almost nonexistent recruiting classes. Here’s what happened.

Between the Iowa basketball recruiting classes of 2014 and 2015, nine scholarship players joined the Hawks.

With the transfer of Isaiah Moss, just one of those nine players will have ever finished their collegiate basketball careers with the Iowa basketball team (Dom Uhl). Not included in that group of nine is former walk-on Nicholas Baer (class of 2014) who arguably carved out a better Iowa basketball career than all of those guys combined.

The interesting thing with recruiting classes at programs like the Iowa basketball program (where they are not bringing in 5-star recruits every year like Kentucky) is the impact of recruiting success or failure is often not felt until a few years later.

That failure came in the form of the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons where the Hawkeyes went 33-34 and failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

So what happened exactly?

Basically, general ineffectiveness led to players getting passed on in the rotation by younger guys, most notably the likes of soon to be senior point guard Jordan Bohannon and 2019 NBA Draft hopeful Tyler Cook.

As we alluded to in a piece earlier this week, every single member of the class of 2015 has transferred. Only Isaiah Moss played truly meaningful minutes from that group.

The class of 2014 isn’t much better. Fran McCaffery brought in a three-player recruiting class (not including walk-on Nicholas Baer), and only Dom Uhl finished his career with the Iowa basketball team. For his career, he averaged just 12.8 minutes per game and 3.4 points per game. Junior college transfer Trey Dickerson spent just one season in Iowa City before leaving and sharpshooter Brady Ellingson graduate transferred to Drake for his final year of eligibility.

An interesting thought is would these guys have stayed had the likes of Jordan Bohannon, Tyler Cook, Ryan Kriener, and Cordell Pemsl not emerged strongly early? Could the Iowa basketball team have experienced success with these now-transferred players or did Fran make the smart decision, one that could set the team back a step in the short run but help the Hawks build a legacy in the long-run culminating in Elite Eight hopes?

One thing is certain, those classes did not help the Iowa basketball team much. Thankfully, Fran McCaffery got lucky when it came to his recruitment of Nicholas Baer as a walk-on. When you combine all the minutes played by the nine scholarship players in the classes of 2014 and 2015 and Nicholas Baers and then look at the percentages, Baer’s total minutes in his Iowa basketball career account for 27% of that groups total minutes. Likewise, his total points percentage is 27% as well.

Factoring in Dom Uhl, Ahmed Wagner, and Isaiah Moss, that four accounts for roughly 80% of the total minutes played and points scored by this group of players.

To be successful in college basketball, you need to recruit better than that. As we’ve seen in the past few years as Iowa basketball fans, it isn’t pretty when you don’t do it well.