With no midweek game last week, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery took some time to go recruiting and may have edged closer to filling the two remaining scholarships the Hawkeyes have for next season.
The Hawkeyes reportedly extended offers to a pair of junior college players who could provide some immediate help next season -- 6-8 Willie Atwood of Connors State (Ark.) Junior College and 6-1 Trey Dickerson of Williston State (N.D.) Community College.
“I suspect we will fill at least one of them, maybe two,’’ McCaffery said last week when asked about the vacant scholarships. “We have some offers out on the table. I wouldn’t be opposed to a transfer if it made sense for us.
“I really think we’re in good position going into the spring with two scholarships open,’’ he added. “I feel good about who we have coming back and the two guys we signed. We’re not in panic mode.’’
In November, the Hawkeyes signed shooting guard Brady Ellingson of Sussex, Wis., and forward Dom Uhl of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. Both are solid prospects but it’s hardly a sure thing that they will have a big impact immediately.
The most obvious remaining need is for additional depth at the forward position. A point guard would not appear to be a need area with Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons having two more years of eligibility, but McCaffery said he’s not as concerned about labels as skills.
“Any time you recruit somebody it’s because they bring a particular skill set other than what you have,’’ he said. “I think we’ve moved beyond the 1-2-3-4-5 numbering system. That’s obsolete.’’
The Hawkeyes aren’t just looking at junior college players. They still are involved with 6-6 Zion-Benton (Ill.) High School star Milik Yarborough and reportedly have entered the picture with 6-9, 240-pound Lithuanian star Rokas Gustys of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.
But here’s a closer look at the two juco prospects:
ATWOOD: He was only 6-7, 185 coming out of high school in Memphis two years ago and was not heavily recruited. He is now 215 pounds and is vastly improved as a player. He averaged 10.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a freshman at Connors State and this season is averaging 21.1 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 58 percent from the field and 78 percent at the foul line.
He has offers on the table from Iowa, Florida State, Auburn, TCU, Arizona State, Wichita State, Marshall, Western Kentucky and Murray State but there also has been interest from Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Gonzaga, SMU, Texas Tech, Central Florida, Nebraska, Oregon State and Indiana. The list of school seems to grow daily.
Atwood admitted in a recent story in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal that he had no choice but to improve his game at Connors because there was little else to occupy his time in the remote surroundings of rural Oklahoma.
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“What else was there to do?’’ he said. “All I had to do out here was get better. All I’ve done is get in the gym.’’
DICKERSON: The slippery guard is averaging 19.4 points, 5.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in his first season at Williston.
This is a much traveled player. He originally is from South Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., where he played for powerhouse Christ the King High School. With the help of former NBA player and current TNT broadcaster Kenny Smith, he moved to Los Angeles and attended Montclair Prep. After that school closed its athletic programs, Dickerson played at Price High School in Los Angeles, then spent last year in prep school at God’s Academy in Dallas.
He signed a letter of intent with Murray State and attended summer classes there, then decided he was not happy with the situation. He was granted a release from his scholarship and turned up at Williston.
He has offers from Iowa, Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Florida International and Fordham, but there also is interest from Arizona State, UNLV, Creighton, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State, Kansas State, UAB and most recently, UCLA.
Dickerson has said on Twitter that he would love to go to the same school as Atwood. He recently sent a direct tweet to the Connors State star saying “lets go to the same school bruh! Turn the NCAA up next year.’’