The 2020 basketball recruiting season is kicking into high gear, with high-profile commitments piling up across the Big Ten and the country. Iowa's 2020 class currently only boasts one verbal commitment — talented point guard Ahron Ulis — but 7-foot Ottumwa forward Xavier Foster is taking his final official visit to Iowa the week of the Penn State night game, and the Hawkeyes are in deep negotiations with two high-profile prospects who visited for MTSU weekend.
So let's talk about them.
First off, three-star wing D.J. Gordon had plenty of nice things to say about Iowa's system after his visit, but didn't commit or offer a favorite; local candidates Pitt and Penn State will be tough competitors, and he's got one more visit to Minnesota scheduled before choosing from Iowa and those three schools. Gordon's a hot commodity for schools on Iowa's level looking for an upgrade on the perimeter, and it's a testament to Iowa's recent improved recruiting that Fran McCaffery was able to get Gordon onto campus for an official visit. If Fran can seal the deal that would be a real Whoa Buddy.
Second — and the source of more pressing intrigue — fellow weekend visitor Jamari Sibley is a four-star wing, listed at 6'8" and 190, playing his senior season at the prestigious Oak Hill Academy. Sibley is a long, lean combo forward with terrific transition skills and a reliable jumper with range. He's been on the good side of the 247 Top 100 since February, and he brings a level of versatility that Iowa hasn't seen since (at least) Jarrod Uthoff. Not an exaggeration.
In even better news, Sibley has reciprocated Iowa's interest, going so far as to tell Hawkeye Report that Iowa has made his final two (!!!!) in the wake of a successful visit:
“There is so many things I liked about the visit,” Sibley said. One of the things was the coaching staff and what they preach to me about fan involvement. The culture and the players on the team all of stood out to me.”
He reports that Iowa is in his final two schools, but declined to name the second school involved in his recruitment. Sibley did visit Minnesota earlier in September and had a visit to Georgetown reportedly scheduled for early October. His plan is to make a decision in the next three weeks.
WE HAVE A MYSTERY SUITOR.
AN INSTITUTION TO BE NAMED LATER.
PARTS UNKNOWN UNIVERSITY.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST RECRUITER.
MOTHER, MAY I COMMIT TO DANGER.
We've been recruiting-adjacent for longer than we'd care to admit, and while every recruitment is admittedly different, "top 2 with I-don't-want-to-tell-you" is a rather rare one. How do you recruit against an enemy... you can't see? [eerie music starts playing]
OK. Now for all the jokes, we do have a less-fun speculative theory on the last team. We're not CROOTIN' INSIDERS but there are some clues out there, so if that's not your bag you can bail now*.
*We're also not Calvinists, so you've really been free to bail at any time that you like.
The mystery team is probably Iowa State.
- Sibley is originally from Milwaukee, and ISU's recent star guard Ty Haliburton has been pushing for Sibley to commit to the Cyclones. Haliburton is more of an influential figure in Milwaukee hoops than Iowa has, so there's some real weight there.
- Sibley told Hawkeye Nation that he would "maybe" schedule a visit with ISU before making a commitment within the next month.
- As recently as July, Sibley told the Des Moines Register that the two in-state power conference teams' recruitment was so heavy, that "it's like an Iowa rivalry."
- The only recruiting prediction for Sibley on 247Sports is Iowa State, made by a Wisconsin-area analyst who hasn't missed yet in 2019. We don't know if it's possible to switch or back out of a miss before a commitment, but nobody's putting their name on Iowa yet.
See? Told you it was less fun than making a reference to Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?. That said, Iowa's in the top two for a hell of a player, and Iowa's the only school he's naming in that top two right now. A fine spot to be in for a fine player.