By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Lots of people have helped Izaya Fullard earn a chance to play for the Iowa baseball team, including George Raveling.
That’s right, the same George Raveling who coached the Iowa men’s basketball team from 1983-86.
Raveling signed and incredible cast of recruits during his three seasons in Iowa City, most notably the big three, B.J. Armstrong, Roy Marble and Ed Horton.
Raveling also signed a point guard from Arizona Western Junior College named Kenny Fullard, who never achieved stardom as a Hawkeye, but who found a new home in Iowa City after growing up in Raytown, Mo.
Izaya Fullard is Kenny Fullard’s son and a former Iowa City West High baseball star who now plays baseball for Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids.
In fact, Izaya plays it so well that he only needed one season to show Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller that he is ready for Big Ten competition.
Izaya announced his commitment to the Iowa baseball team on Twitter on Saturday.
He will have the privilege of playing for his home-town school and for the school that his father attended thanks to George Raveling’s scholarship offer more than 30 years ago.
Raveling’s scholarship offer changed the course of Kenny Fullard’s life and made Kenny’s son a born-and-raised Hawkeye.
“I’m super excited,” Izaya said Saturday night. “My dad played basketball at Iowa, and while I was growing up, I always wanted to be a Hawk.”
The younger Fullard was a star third baseman and prolific hitter for Iowa City West High School. He earned all-state accolades and started on the varsity team for three season, hitting for average and for power.
Izaya also has been dominant at the plate for Kirkwood College as he leads the team with a .451 batting average and with 58 RBI as a true freshman.
Izaya will be reunited with former West High teammate and close friend Connor McCaffery, who is being redshirted this season as a true freshman outfielder and first baseman on the Iowa baseball team.
“Connor is one of my best friends and playing with him again is going to be great,” Izaya said. “I know a lot of the guys already. I played with a couple of them through Perfect game and stuff like that. So I think it’s going to be real fun.”
Izaya mostly played third base in high school, but he isn’t sure what position will fit him best at Iowa. He is willing to try about anything.
“(Coach Heller) said they’re willing to move me around and try me in different places because they want my bat in the lineup,” Izaya said. “So I’m just willing to do whatever is best for the team. If that’s (designated hitting), I’ll do that.
“But second base, first base, even outfield, I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Izaya Fullard will join an Iowa program that has risen steadily under Heller from Big Ten also-ran to conference contender.
The Hawkeye are trying to make the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five seasons under Heller and they helped their cause on Saturday by defeating No. 12 Oklahoma State 16-14 at Banks Field to improve to 27-16 overall.
Iowa also won the Big Ten Conference Tournament for the first time last season.
“I think they’re headed in the right direction to make the World Series, eventually,” Izaya Fullard said. “I really like what coach Heller has done with the program.”
Iowa has some key hitters that will have to be replaced next season, including seniors Tyler Cropley and Chris Whelan. Junior right fielder Robert Neustrom also could skip his senior season to enter the draft.
Izaya Fullard felt that he was capable of playing Division I baseball when he arrived at Kirkwood and he figured he would spend just one season in junior college.
But then the place kind of grew on him and Izaya said he would’ve been just fine spending two years at Kirkwood.
“I just felt like I should be at division one,” Izaya said. “But then I got here and just fell in love with the program at Kirkwood and all the guys and my coaches. And I was really comfortable with staying for two years.
“But then Iowa came in and it was really hard to turn down because it’s one of my dreams schools and I just felt like it would be really good for me to move and play for a Big Ten program.”