With only one game in a span of 18 days between Dec. 13 and Dec. 31, Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery has been able to get out and do some recruiting as he seeks to fill the two open scholarships he has for next season.
When the Hawkeyes signed only two players to letters of intent in November — Wisconsin sharpshooter Brady Ellingson and New Jersey forward Dominique Uhl — the presumption was that McCaffery and his staff would sign two more players in the spring.
But McCaffery said that won’t necessarily happen. He isn’t discounting the possibility of carrying one or both of his open scholarships over to next season, when he will have three more with which to work.
“It’s like this: If we felt there was a good player that we could get, we’d take them,’’ McCaffery said last week. “If we felt there was two good players that we thought we could get, we’d take them. And then you go into next year.
“If there’s nobody we’re thrilled with, we’ll carry them both. We’ll go with this group. I only will sign a guy if I think he will help our team.’’
In other words, McCaffery doesn’t intend to settle for someone with a pulse just to be use up all his scholarships. As he points out, he will be losing six very good players in the next two graduating classes. Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe are seniors this season. Aaron White, Gabe Olaseni and Josh Oglesby will finish up their eligibility next season. It’s imperative that he get more than just warm bodies.
“Think about who we’re replacing,’’ McCaffery said. “Basabe’s a 1,000-point scorer. Marble’s one of the best players in the league, McCabe will be very close to a 1,000-point scorer, Aaron White is one of the best players ever to play here, Olaseni is really blossoming and is going to have a fabulous year next year and Oglesby’s been terrific. So we’ve got a lot to replace and you’ve got to be careful not to just throw a scholarship out to get a body to fill a scholarship.’’
That doesn’t mean McCaffery feels the need to bring in five superstars. But it’s important that anyone he signs needs to be able to make an impact.
“They need to be somebody I can put in a game and know what we’re going to get based on their skill set,’’ McCaffery added. “And then their skill sets have to fit with what else we have in the program …
“When I’m looking at a guy, he has to be able to help us. Obviously, we hope we get a lottery pick, we hope we get a first team All-American. But at the very least I want to be able to put him into a Big Ten game and know he’ll be successful in helping us win games.’’