It's the start of the 2020-21 season. It's also the immediate aftermath of basketball's primary Signing Day in an utterly bizarre year for recruiting. We all know that the present of Iowa basketball looks bright, but what does the future hold for the program?
CLASS OF 2020
Before we jump into the prospects, let's take a brief step back. Fran McCaffery brought in an entire starting five in last year's class: Two guards in Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins, two forwards from the Murray Twins, and center Josh Ogundele. Iowa's class ranked 10th in the Big Ten and 56th nationally, according to 24/7. That's not great, given the number of recruits Iowa needed to sign.
More crucially, it was the first Iowa recruiting class since 2015 without a four-star recruit. Like this class, the 2015 group was a high-volume class, and it was arguably McCaffery's worst at Iowa. Three of the six players recruited essentially never played for McCaffery. The other three played, but transferred early; of that group, only Isaiah Moss was a significant contributor over multiple seasons.
On paper, this looks a bit like that one, with one caveat: McCaffery missed on his recruits in 2015 (and in 2014, the other contender for worst class). Since then, Fran has shown a true ability to unearth quality talent on the fringes. Guys like Jordan Bohannon, Ryan Kriener, C.J. Fredrick and Joe Toussaint weren't particularly highly-regarded, and have become key players over the last half-decade. McCaffery deserves the benefit of the doubt on mid-level recruits until proven otherwise.
CLASS OF 2021
Fran has always said his preference is to recruit Iowa for Iowa. The geographic preference isn't at the level we saw with Todd Lickliter -- these guys still have to be good enough to play Big Ten basketball to get consideration -- but ties go to the local guys.
As it stands right now, Iowa only has two seniors leaving: Jordan Bohannon and Luka...Garza.
Excuse me for a moment.
Sorry about that. Happens every time I think about JBo and Luka leaving.
At the moment, Iowa only had one of those scholarships to fill. Fran followed his local preference to Payton Sandfort, a three-star small forward out of Waukee. Sandfort had a handful of other high-major offers, including Minnesota and Stanford, which would have set up Stanford's Sandfort, and that would have been hilarious.
It does seem possible, even probable, that Iowa will have another scholarship open for next year, but that's all up in the air with coronavirus issues and additional eligibility. Iowa could be looking for a transfer or another recruit in the spring in that scenario. Final class composition to be determined.
CLASS OF 2022
At the moment, there is just one Iowa-based recruit with Power 5 offers in the Class of 2022. The one, point guard Tamin Lipsey, is out of Ames, so that's probably not happening. There really isn't even interest from power conference teams in the rest of the class; a point guard from Council Bluffs, Josh Dix, has some local interest from Creighton, and that's about it.
With the in-state class unlikely to produce a recruit, Iowa has gone into Minnesota heavy with early offers for the 2022 class. Six recruits are holding Iowa offers, though none of them seem too high on the Hawkeyes at the moment. Iowa has also gone to its other hotbed: The Northeast. At the top of the list is Dasonte Bowen, a four-star point guard out of New Hampshire who has responded favorably. Iowa has also offered a three-star center out of Connecticut, Riley Mulvey.
The 2022 class is going to be a true mess, with coronavirus extra-eligibility holdovers taking spots across the country that were supposed to be open. Expect late offers, late commitments, and a whole bunch of decommitments when scholarships vanish. If the 2020-21 season goes as well as expected for the Hawkeyes, it's a tough scenario to cash in on generational success.
CLASS OF 2023
The Class of 2023 is about one guy: Omaha Biliew, the five-star power forward out of Waukee (it gets confusing when a guy is named after a city where he doesn't live, to be sure). The 24/7 scouts have him listed as the third-best recruit in the country, something the state hasn't seen since Harrison Barnes. Iowa has already offered, as has Nebraska, Illinois, Georgia and Arkansas. The big names will be coming soon, to be sure. Iowa has done well with in-state recruits in recent years, but has hardly put up walls around the borders. If Fran is to capitalize on a successful 2020-21 and turn it into sustained success, Biliew could be the grand prize.