By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – High school guard Reed Fenton has been interested in the Iowa men’s basketball program for a while, and now the Iowa coaches are becoming more interested in him.
“Last year, he mentioned there was some interest, and then last week, he just seemed real excited that Iowa was in fact in the game and possibly interested in seeing more of him,” said Fenton’s high school coach Brad Wetzel. “I just tell you that, he just seemed real excited.”
The interest from both sides is now so strong that Fenton, a 6-foot-5 junior from Latrobe, Pa., plans to take an unofficial visit to Iowa in June.
He and his father also sat behind the Iowa bench during Iowa's loss at Penn State this past season in early February.
“I really liked it,” Fenton said Monday. “We got to sit right behind the bench and just watch them play. I like their style of play. I like the way coach McCaffery handled himself, and I was able to see how he interacted with his players and stuff. I really liked what I saw.”
Fran McCaffery’s son, Patrick McCaffery, is the only player currently committed to Iowa’s 2019 recruiting class and there is just one more scholarship available in the class at this time.
However, that could change due to rosters being fluid.
Fenton doesn’t currently have a scholarship offer from Iowa, and hasn’t really discussed with the Iowa coaches where he stands in that regard. But he hopes to learn more about his chances for a scholarship during his visit in June.
Fran McCaffery alreaady has extended offers to 2019 guards D.J. Carton, who is from Bettendorf, and Minnesota native Tyrell Terry.
“That hasn’t really been talked about,” Fenton said. “I’m hoping maybe that’ll be brought up when I come out for the unofficial. But I’m just happy that they’re even taking a looki at me. It’s very humbling.”
Fenton’s interest in Iowa can be traced to his father, who played college basketball for the Naval Academy. His father also was recruited by McCaffery when McCaffery was the head coach for Lehigh.
“My dad kind of knows coach McCaffery because he recruitd him when coach McCaffery was at Lehigh,” Fenton said. “And then after my sophomore year my dad sent him my tape trying to get just his opinion because my dad knows he knows basketball.
“And coach McCaffery said, we like him. We’re going to take a harder look at him. And they have just kept following me up ever since then. He watched me play last year and I’m pretty sure they watched me play this past weekend. And we went up and saw them against Penn State.”
Fenton has gained more attention as a high-major prospect while playing on the AAU circuit this spring.
“This last couple of weekends he’s been playing some AAU basketball and I think a lot of people like what they see,” Wetzel said.
Fenton already has taken an unofficial visit to Louisiana State and he said his AAU coach has been in contact with the coaches from Stanford this spring.
“I have talked to a decent amount of schools,” Fenton said. “I’m just excited and humbled by it all. And I just want to keep working and try and get some offers now.”
Fenton played point guard for his high school team out of necessity last season, but Wetzel would prefer that Fenton play shooting guard.
“If I can afford to do it, if I can find somebody to run my point, I think I do, I can use Reed where he can really do some damage and I think that’s scoring points,” Wetzel said.
Fenton thinks playing point guard last season helped him gain a better understanding of the game.
“I think I can play both the point or combo guard,” Fenton said. “Playing point guard this past year for my high school team really helped improve my game with court sense and ball handling.
“So I think I could play either position and that’s a good thing to be able to do because I’m not restricted to just one position. I can go in there as point guard or as a shooting guard.”
Fenton is long and athletic and still developing from a physical standpoint. He can play above the rim and shoots well from the perimeter.
“I think probably one of the things they like about Reed is that it doesn’t even look like he’s begun to scratch the surface,” Wetzel said. “When his physical maturity kicks in, he’s just got the whole package.”
Iowa stands out to Fenton as a Big Ten program, but also because of academics.
“Playing in the Big Ten would definitely be I think good for me because it’s high competition basketball and I want to try and play at the highest level possible,” Fenton said. “And Iowa, they have a good chemistry program. I looked into that and I want to be a dentist.
“I just like biology and chemistry classes, and I knew I always wanted to be in the medical field.”
Fenton has an older brother who attends Georgia Tech and Reed said distance from home probably wouldn't be a big factor in his choice for college.
“I haven’t given it much thought, but my brother, he’s down at Georgia Tech and he loves it,” Fenton said. “So I don’t think distance from home will be a big deal for me.”