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Hawkeyes looking more and more to juco ranks

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The Iowa basketball team currently has three players verbally committed to sign with the Hawkeyes in future seasons — two for the class of 2015 and one for 2016.

All of them are high school players. Brandon Hutton of Chicago De La Salle and Andrew Fleming, who will play next season at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, are slated to sign with the Hawkeyes in November. Cordell Pemsl of Dubuque Wahlert is committed for the following year.

But it would seem that the Hawkeyes and Fran McCaffery are edging more and more toward embracing players from the junior college ranks. They went hard after two juco stars this past year and signed one — point guard Trey Dickerson. And they reportedly are involved with at least three more junior college players for the class of 2015.

However, McCaffery insists there hasn’t been some sort of seismic shift in his recruiting philosophy.

“It’s a year by year thing,’’ he said during a recent visit to the Quad-Cities. “It’s an individual thing. It’s not where we’re just now going to go with the junior colleges.

“We’re a team that typically recruits high school kids that we expect to be here for four years. At times, depending on your scholarship situation, what you lose, who’s available, who’s interested, we’ll go that route.’’

There’s nothing wrong with recruiting jucos, of course. They normally bring more immediate physical maturity, toughness and moxie than high school kids. But they do occasionally bring baggage.

Here are some juco players reportedly being looked at by the Hawkeyes for the class of 2015:

Novian Cherry, 6-4, College of Southern Idaho: This is a big-time offensive player who attended Morse High School in San Diego. He scored 49 points in one game last season at Mesa Community College in San Diego and averaged 21.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He recently announced, though, that he will play at the College of Southern Idaho next season. Cherry originally committed to leaving junior college after one year to attend Western Kentucky, then decided to stay at that level for another season and reopen his recruitment.

Austin Pope, 6-6, Cerritos (Calif.) CC: He is an extremely athletic point guard who was heavily recruited out of high school in Burbank, Calif. His statistics from his first season at Cerritos aren’t terribly impressive — 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 39 percent field goal shooting — but he reportedly is being pursued by Oregon, Colorado, DePaul and Gonzaga in addition to Iowa. He and Cherry have indicated they might like to attend the same college.

Thaddeus Hall, 6-4, Lee (Texas) CC: The Brooklyn native committed to South Carolina coming out of high school but failed to qualify and ended up at Jones County Junior College in Mississippi, where he helped his team win the national championship last season. He only started about half the games and played about 19 minutes per game, but averaged 15.7 points per game and shot 46 percent from the field. Like Cherry, he is changing schools and will play next season at Lee Community College in Baytown, Texas. The list of schools recruiting him reportedly includes South Carolina, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Wichita State, Miami and West Virginia.


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