By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – With Iowa point guard Jordan Bohannon already halfway through his college basketball career, Fran McCaffery is trying to prepare for life without him.
McCaffery is aggressively recruiting several point guards in the 2019 senior class, most notably Bettendorf native D.J. Carton and Minneapolis native Tyrell Terry.
They both have held an Iowa offer for a while and the Hawkeyes are considered a serious contender in both cases.
Carton lives only about an hour from the Iowa campus and his grandfather played basketball for Iowa in the late 1950s. Carton also has friends and classmates who encourage him to be a Hawkeye on a daily basis, so if Carton doesn’t pick Iowa, it won’t be from a lack of persuasion.
McCaffery wasn’t the first head coach to offer Carton a scholarship, but he was among the first to offer the 6-foot-2 lefty. Wisconsin offered Carton a scholarship a few days before Iowa did and the Badgers are considered a contender. But the Carton-to-Wisconsin talk seems to have cooled a little since more schools, including Ohio State and Michigan, have started recruiting Carton.
Much of the recruiting chatter has the Buckeyes and Wolverines both standing out to Carton, along with Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin
But it’s just chatter because nobody really knows for sure at this stage.
Carton probably doesn’t even know or he’d commit.
But there has been a lot of talk recently that Ohio State and Michigan have risen to or near the top of Carton’s list since offering him a scholaship.
What remains to be seen with Carton is if the bluest of blue-blood programs will extend offers because right now Duke, Kansas and North Carolina haven’t offered him a scholarship.
Carton reminds me of a bigger and stronger Dean Oliver, who also was left handed and capable of scoring with penetration and with perimeter shooting.
Oliver played point guard at Iowa from 1997 to 2001 and he might have been a step quicker and a slightly better 3-point shooter than Carton at the same stage. But Carton is a more versatile scorer and has the kind of body that can absorb contact.
Carton is ranked as a four-star recruit by Rivals and his stock seems to grow with each AAU appearance.
You could argue that the longer Carton takes to make a decision, the less likely he will pick Iowa.
But again, nobody knows for sure and each case is different.
Should Iowa come up short, it won’t be from a lack of trying. McCaffery and his assistant coaches have made Carton a priority.
But securing a commitment isn’t easy when the competition includes some of the top programs in the Big Ten.
Iowa also didn’t help its cause by finishing 4-14 in the Big Ten this past season. That could prove to be an aberration, but it’s impossible to prove anything right now.
Terry, meanwhile, is also a four-star recruit according to Rivals.
Iowa has the distinction of being the first school to offer Terry a scholarship, and he appreciates that and has said so publicly.
The 6-foot Terry also plays on the same Minnesota AAU team with McCaffery’s son, Patrick McCaffery, who already is committed to Iowa’s 2019 class.
Terry’s stock has risen this spring and with that has come recent scholarship offers from Minnesota, Baylor and Indiana, while Stanford is showing interest.
So landing Terry won’t be easy, either.
Tyreke Locure from Des Moines North High School is reportedly on Iowa’s radar, but hasn’t been offered a scholarship. Locure is a prolific scorer and an explosive athlete, but he isn’t very tall at 5-10.
Pennsylvania native Reed Fenton is another backcourt possibility in the 2019 class and he plans to take an unofficial visit to Iowa City in June. The 6-5 Fenton doesn’t have a scholarship offer from Iowa, but he hopes to learn more about where he stands in that during his visit.
“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 looking at me. It’s very humbling.”
Fenton played point guard for his high school team as a junior, but that was mostly out of necessity. He is better suited to play shooting guard according to his high school coach, Brad Wetzel.
Iowa’s point guard situation is set for next season with Bohannon returning as a two-year starter.
Fran McCaffery’s son, Connor McCaffery, will be the backup point guard as a redshirt freshman, but at 6-5, Connor McCaffery also can play alongside the 6-0 Bohannon.
Incoming freshman C.J. Fredrick will be another backcourt option for next season, but the 6-4 Kentucky native is not a true point guard.
That’s why it is imperative that Fran McCaffery land a point guard in the 2019 class.
Iowa has plenty to offer a 2019 point guard recruit, including a chance for immediate playing time, because Bohannon could easily shift to shooting guard if the right point guard were to join the team.
But Iowa also has a unique situation with McCaffery’s son playing guard. Other schools almost certainly have used that against Iowa because recruiting can be a nasty business.
I wouldn’t begin to guess who Iowa ultimately will end up signing in the 2019 class, besides the 6-8 Patrick McCaffery, because there is too much uncertainty and because the situation is so fluid.
It's uncertain how many scholarships Iowa will have available in the 2019 class with sophomores Tyler Cook and Isaiah Moss both currently testing the NBA Draft process.
But there is one available right now and it seems likely that a point guard will be the recipient.
The question is which point guard?