By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - We already knew that next weekend was critical for the Iowa football team with its annual showdown against Iowa State scheduled for Saturday Sept. 8 at Kinnick Stadium.
But it also will be an important weekend for Fran McCaffery and the Iowa men’s basketball team from a recruiting standpoint.
In addition to his own son, Patrick McCaffery, taking his official recruiting visit on the same weekend, Iowa also will host two five-star recruits in 2019 forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and 2020 forward Xavier Foster, along with a 2019 three-star point guard from New York City.
That is a lot of star-power for one weekend, especially for a team coming off a 14-19 season, including 4-14 in the Big Ten, and for a program that rarely rubs elbows with elite recruits.
It’s a key step in the recruiting process to get an official visit, but it hardly closes the deal.
Iowa is one of six finalists for Jackson-Davis, a 6-foot-9 native of Greenwood, Ind., who is the son of former NBA player Dale Davis. His other finalists are Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, UCLA and Wake Forest.
Picking the field would obviously be a safer prediction with regard to which school Jackson-Davis will choose, especially with Indiana and Purdue involved.
But still, you never know.
Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes have made it this far, so perhaps they can make it even further.
Foster’s situation is different compared to Jackson-Davis because Foster is only a junior and because he’s from Iowa, with Oskaloosa being his home. Foster’s grandfather on his mother’s side is also former Iowa running back Mark Fetter, who lettered for the Hawkeyes from 1972-75.
Foster grew up cheering for Iowa, so that is one thing the other schools can’t match.
But when the other schools include Kansas, it might not matter where the 6-10 Foster grew up.
Foster has grown into a huge recruit, literally and figuratively, and he still has almost two years of high school remaining.
The only reason Foster is able to take an official visit to Iowa as a high school junior is because the NCAA recently changed a rule that now allows juniors to take official visits.
As for the point guard from the Big Apple, his name is Joe Touissant, and I’ve seen enough of him on film to say that he is lightning quick, even by Big Ten standards. Touissant is just what Iowa needs from a perimeter quickness standpoint
He isn’t very big, listed at 5-10, but compensates with his quickness.
So while the Iowa football team tries to defeat Iowa State for the fourth time in a row, and for the fifth time in the last six games, Fran McCaffery and his assistant coaches will try to pull off a recruiting bonanza.
It seems like a wise move to have Patrick McCaffery visit at the same time as the other three recruits because Patrick brings credibility as a 6-8 four-star recruit. Patrick also can help feed the family atmosphere that recruits often mention as being a factor in their decision.
The timing of Fran McCaffery’s decision to focus mostly on recruiting four- and five-star prospects seems a little odd with Iowa coming off such a poor season.
But you can’t fault him for trying, although, you hope there is a contingency plan, or some other options, because the odds are usually against Iowa landing a five-star recruit.
Fran McCaffery already has one talented recruit in the 2019 class with his son Patrick, and Fran also tried hard to land Bettendorf five-star point guard D.J. Carton, but fell short.
There is so much hype and speculation with recruiting these days as so-called recruiting experts make their predictions about where certain players are headed. Some do it in the form of a crystal ball, which is a drastic change from the old days before the Internet when the only balls were leather or rubber.
Recruiting is big business right now, but it still comes down to winning and building relationships and trust. That part will never change, and that part takes time and effort.
Fran McCaffery is certainly putting in the time and putting forth the effort or he wouldn't have two five-star recruits preparing to visit.
The problem with recruiting is that more times than not you don't get rewarded for your efforts.