By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Assuming Isaiah Moss returns to Iowa for his junior season, he will be all that is left from his six-player recruiting class in 2015.
The class already was down to Moss and forward Ahmad Wagner when Wagner announced shortly after this past season that he wanted to switch to football for the remainder of his college career.
Wagner then announced on Tuesday that he will transfer to Kentucky to finish his academic and athletic career.
The other early departures from the 2015 class are shooting guard Andrew Fleming, small forwards Dale Jones and Brandon Hutton and point guard Christian Williams.
Combine the five defections from the 2015 class with the 2014 class losing two of its three players early and it makes more sense why Iowa struggled this past season, finishing just 4-14 in the Big Ten and 15-19 overall.
Very few programs could absorb the hit from losing seven of nine recruits in back-to-back recruiting classes.
Dom Uhl is the only player from either class to play all four years at Iowa, but the 2014 recruit from Frankfurt, Germany by way of New Jersey played sparingly as a reserve for much of his career.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery focused much of his attention on trying to land star point guard Tyler Ulis in the 2014 class.
But Ulis ultimately picked Kentucky where he played for two seasons before leaving early for the NBA.
McCaffery was left scrambling to find a point guard for the 2014 class and he signed Trey Dickerson, who was playing in junior college at the time.
However, when it became apparent that Dickerson wouldn’t start over Mike Gesell or Anthony Clemmons at point guard, Dickerson left the program after just semester.
Shooting guard Brady Ellingson also signed with Iowa in 2014 and stayed in the program for four years. But he struggled to earn playing time and will finish his career for Drake next season as a graduate transfer.
Player defections hadn’t been a big problem for McCaffery until the 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes started to unravel.
McCaffery also might lose Moss and forward Tyler Cook to the NBA with both testing the NBA Draft process as sophomores. But Moss already has told McCaffery that he will return if he isn’t selected in the draft, while Cook is waiting to see where he stands before making a decision.
The odds of Moss being selected in the two-round NBA Draft are slim to none, and the odds for Cook don’t appear much better.
Cook would return to Iowa rather than play professionally overseas, according to a source close to Cook’s situation.
Player defections were a disturbing part of Todd Lickliter’s brief time in Iowa City as McCaffery’s predecessor from 2007-10.
Lickliter was fired after just three seasons and after multiple player defections.
The difference between what is currently happening under McCaffery compared to Lickliter is that the player defections under McCaffery have mostly been about playing time, whereas under Lickliter, Iowa lost its leading scorer in back-to-back seasons.
Cook is among five players who signed with Iowa’s 2016 class, and all five are still currently on the team, as are the three members of the 2017 recruiting class: center Luka Garza, forward Jack Nunge and guard Connor McCaffery.
The other four players from the 2016 class are point guard Jordan Bohannon, forwards Cordell Pemsl and Ryan Kriener and shooting guard Maishe Dailey. All four of them will be juniors next season.
Iowa will add two freshmen to the roster next season with the additions of 6-foot-6 Muscatine star Joe Wieskamp and 6-4 shooting guard C.J. Fredrick, who is from Kentucky.
“I’m comfortable with my team,” McCaffery said recently. “I like who we have coming back and who’s coming in.
“I’m very confident that we’ll get things corrected.”
Iowa's 2014 recruiting class
Trey Dickerson, 6-0, point guard – He came from junior college, but only lasted one semester before leaving the program. He played his final season for Georgetown this past season after transferring from South Dakota where he played as a junior.
Brady Ellingson, 6-4 shooting guard – Wisconsin native redshirted his true freshman season and then played sparingly over the past three seasons. He will finish his career for Drake as a graduate transfer.
Dom Uhl, 6-9, forward – A native of Frankfurt, Germany, he flashed at times but never stayed in the rotation for an extended period.
Andrew Fleming, 6-4, shooting guard – Tennessee native bolted after his freshman season in which he played sparingly. He transferred to Tennessee-Chattanooga, but didn’t stay long there, either. He now attends Lipscombe where he will be a fourth-year junior next season.
Brandon Hutton, 6-4 small forward/shooting guard – Chicago native left the Iowa program after being redshirted as a true freshman. He played one season for Indian Hills Community College before transferring to Northwestern State in Louisiana.
Dale Jones, 6-7, small forward – Waterloo native struggled with injuries during his two seasons at Iowa. He transferred to North Dakota, where he played his final season this past winter as a graduate student.
Isaiah Moss, 6-5, shooting guard – Chicago native has started each of the past two seasons at shooting guard after redshirting as a true freshman.
Ahmad Wagner, 6-7, small forward – Ohio native played mostly as a reserve for three seasons with the Iowa basketball team. He announed on Tuesday that he will transfer to Kentucky to play football.
Christian Williams, 6-5, point guard – A native of Decatur, Ill., he quit the Iowa team the day before the first exhibition game this past November and has since transferred to Indiana State.