The Iowa basketball program is in the middle of recruiting arguably the most important class in Fran McCaffery’s tenure. They need the 2020 class to work.
Ask an Iowa basketball fan what their thoughts are on Fran McCaffery and you’re likely to get a 50/50 divide on like or dislike. Personally, I fall on the like side, and I have been an avid supporter of Fran McCaffery, but anytime things go wrong, the naysayers come out in full force.
Fran McCaffery has been the head coach of the Iowa basketball program for nine seasons, and he has put together some great recruiting classes and solid regular seasons. When it becomes late February or even tournament time, though, the Iowa basketball team has struggled while Fran’s been at the helm. They haven’t made it past the round of 32 since he took over, and more often than not, his teams have struggled in the Big Ten Tournament and down the stretch of the regular season.
Some of those struggles would have been fine had the Iowa basketball team been consistently making the NCAA Tournament. Until this past season though, the Hawkeyes hadn’t been NCAA Tournament bound for three seasons.
There’s a lot of fingers that could be pointed, but what it boils down to me is the recruiting classes prior to that didn’t pan out as they should have. When the Iowa basketball team graduated four starting seniors (Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, Mike Gessell, and Anthony Clemmons), there was little depth to build around. The 2014 and the 2015 recruiting classes crushed the Iowa basketball program. Out of nine scholarships handed out during recruitment period, just one guy actually finished his career with the Hawks. Another, Nicholas Baer, started his career as a walk-on and also finished his career, but regardless, the lack of incoming talent in those two classes left a void in the program that couldn’t be lifted up by sharp-shooting Peter Jok or anyone else.
Because of those two bad classes though, the Iowa basketball team went 19-15 and 14-19 in two seasons missing the NCAA Tournament both times causing fans to lose their patience. The Iowa basketball team isn’t expected to be a perennial title contender, but fans do expect the team to make the NCAA Tournament.
Currently, the Hawks are in a precarious position. Their roster has a significant amount of young talent and a few stars (Joe Wieskamp and Luka Garza), but who will be ready to take the torch in 2-3 years?
With the 2020 recruiting class, the Hawkeyes have anywhere from 3-5 scholarship spots open, which would make this their biggest class since 2016, and they need to get it right.
They can’t afford to struggle through one or two down years again while players develop. Fans are quickly losing their patience, which is why this 2020 class is so important. As it stands today, the Hawks are in the running for a few top-tier recruits including Oskaloosa native Xavier Foster and Minneapolis native Jalen Suggs. Landing one of those guys would be huge, landing both could make this team a national title threat. Landing neither could be incredibly detrimental to the future of the program.