By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – While the state is abuzz over it, Fran McCaffery is one of few people who can’t talk about his recruitment of 2019 Bettendorf point guard D.J. Carton.
NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from commenting publicly about a specific recruit before the recruit has signed a national letter of intent.
The earliest Carton could sign a letter of intent is in November during the early signing period.
He recently trimmed his list to six schools that included Iowa. His other five finalists are Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Xavier and Marquette.
McCaffery spoke on Friday about his attempt to sign a point guard during a 30-minute interview on 1630-KCJJ radio. He never mentioned Carton’s name, but it seemed obvious to whom McCaffery was referring.
McCaffery said he wants to sign a point guard who moves the needle, but he doesn’t want to sign a point guard just to sign a point guard.
“I think we all know who we’re talking about,” McCaffery said without being specific.
McCaffery also updated Tyler Cook’s situation, saying that Cook is in the process of working out for as many as six NBA teams.
Cook has until May 30th to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft to retain his college eligibility.
McCaffery understands why Cook is testing the NBA Draft process as a sophomore, and he thinks Cook will benefit from the experience, even if he isn't selected in the two-round draft.
But McCaffery also said Friday that he thinks the 6-foot-9 Cook could position himself to be a first-round selection in the 2019 NBA Draft if he returned to Iowa and had a solid junior season.
Of course, McCaffery is biased, but what he said seems to suggest that Cook’s situation still is fluid.
McCaffery addressed the circumstances surrounding both of his sons, saying that he thinks 6-foot-5 Connor McCaffery will help Iowa as a pass-first guard who has a deep understanding of the game and strong court awareness.
The hope is that Connor will provide some relief for Jordan Bohannon at point guard. Connor’s ability and his willingness to pass could fit nicely with Bohannon’s superb shooting ability.
As for McCaffey’s other son, 6-8 forward Patrick McCaffery, he ranks among the top 100 players nationally in the 2019 senior class, but could start his career at Iowa as a walk-on.
Fran McCaffery said Friday that having Patrick walk-on as a true freshman is an option that will be determined by what happens in recruiting.
If Carton and another 2019 recruit that Fran McCaffery covets both picked Iowa, having Patrick walk-on would free up a scholarship.
Fran McCaffery is in the unusual position of trying to rebound from a disappointing season. Iowa lost 19 games, including 14 in the Big Ten, this past season, after having won 19 games the previous season.
Iowa performed woefully on defense this past season, and fixing that is one of the priorities during the offseason, along with each player getting stronger.
This past season marked the first time in eight season under McCaffery that Iowa regressed significantly.
McCaffery didn’t offer any magic cure during Friday’s interview. He said it basically comes down to be fully invested and locked in to getting better on defense.
He praised the players for working hard during the offseason, and he praised Cook for fulfilling all of his academic requirements despite having such a busy schedule.
McCaffery was upbeat like always during Friday’s interview. He refuses to let one disappointing season dampen his spirits.
He is excited about incoming freshmen Joe Wieskamp and C.J. Fredrick, and about Iowa’s potential for next season.
So if you need a hoops fix in mid-May, this podcast is for you. Fran McCaffery’s interview starts approximately one hour into the 90-minute podcast.