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McCaffery wants the right fit to replace outgoing seniors

[ 0 ] December 20, 2013 |

Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery had to leave practice early on Thursday, but for a good reason.

It was time again to hit the recruiting trail in search of talent.

McCaffery addressed the current state of recruiting during a Friday teleconference. He still has two scholarships available in the 2014 recruiting class after signing high school shooting guard Brady Ellingson and high school forward Dominique Uhl in November.

McCaffery could use both scholarships this spring or he could hold them and have five scholarships available for the 2015 recruiting class after current Hawkeye seniors Devyn Marble, Zach McCabe and Melsahn Basabe have used up their eligibility.

“I don’t think you can sit down today and (decide when the scholarships will be distributed),” McCaffery said. “If we felt like there was a good player we could get (in the spring), we would take him. If we felt like there were two good players we could get, we would take them and then you go into next year (with three).

“If there’s nobody that we’re thrilled with, we’ll carry them both. We’ll go with this group”

McCaffery said he’s more concerned now with recruiting the right players than recruiting to fill a specific position.

“We’re open to the best player,” said McCaffery, who has a 64-52 record as the Iowa coach heading into Sunday’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “I’m looking for impact. I’m looking for guys that, without question, can come in and help us. It doesn’t mean they have to be a star. But they have to be impact.

“They have to be somebody I can put in a game and know what we’re going to get based on their skill set. And then those skill sets have to fit with what else we have in the program and what else we’re trying to bring in. I try not to stockpile one position if I can help it.”

In addition to replacing his three seniors, McCaffery also has to prepare for life without three key juniors on the team, most notably 6-foot-8 forward Aaron White, who made third-team all-Big Ten last season. The other juniors on scholarship are 6-10 center/forward Gabe Olaseni and 6-5 shooting guard Josh Oglesby. Junior forward Darius Stokes also is on scholarship, but probably just for this season.

“I only will sign a guy if I think he can help our team,” McCaffery said. “Obviously it’s nice having two scholarships going into the spring. We’re looking to the next class because of who we lose in the next two classes.

“We lose six really good players. That’s why it’s critical that we don’t just get a body to say we’re going to go one (in the spring) and four (in the fall) or two and three. We’ve got a lot to replace here and you have to be careful not to throw a scholarship out just to get a body, just to fill a scholarship.”

McCaffery has shown a keen eye for identifying talent, landing players such as White, who was lightly recruited out of Ohio, but now ranks as one of the top players in the Big Ten. McCaffery also has competed against some of the elite programs for recruits. He convinced 7-1 sophomore center and Sioux City native Adam Woodbury to sign with Iowa instead of North Carolina and he battled Kentucky down to the wire for Chicago-area point guard Tyler Ulis before coming up short.

“When I’m looking at a guy, he’s got to be able to come in and help us,” McCaffery said. “We obviously would hope we get a lottery pick and a first-team All-American, but at the very least, I’d hope to put him in a Big Ten game and he’ll be successful in helping us win Big Ten games.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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