Gatens and Fran

Matt Gatens poses with Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery during Senior Day ceremonies in 2012. Gatens is among several former Iowa players being speculated about in connection with a current opening on the Iowa staff.

A fresh batch of questions regarding recent developments in the Iowa basketball program:

Why did assistant coach Andrew Francis leave to take a job on the staff at the University of California?

Hard to say. It looks to be a lateral move at best. After 12 years of working for Fran McCaffery at Siena and Iowa, it seems odd that Francis left to go to a place where he has no obvious connections.

There was no inkling of dissatisfaction at Iowa. Francis was extremely well liked and was probably the Hawkeyes’ best recruiter although it’s not as though they have a roster filled with 4- and 5-star recruits.

Francis’ parting message on Twitter was entirely positive. He thanked the people of Iowa for treating him like family and said “I fell in love with this amazing place because of all the amazing people.’’

But he’s still leaving. Maybe after nine years he’s just looking for a change of scenery?

At Cal, Francis will be working for former Georgia coach Mark Fox. The other full-time assistants on the staff will be Marty Wilson, the former Pepperdine head coach who is a holdover from the previous Cal staff, and former New Mexico, Nebraska and St. Louis assistant Chris Harriman. Fox also has brought in Trent Johnson, the former head coach at Stanford, Nevada, LSU and TCU, as an analyst on his staff.

Who is likely to replace Francis?

The names of several former Iowa players have been thrown out in early speculation, including Dean Oliver, Jeff Horner, Matt Gatens and Ryan Bowen.

Oliver is in his second year as an assistant at Wisconsin. Horner, formerly the head coach at West Des Moines Dowling and the director of basketball operations at North Dakota, went 14-15 last season in his first year as the head coach at Division II Truman State. Gatens was the director of basketball operations (a part-time position) at Drake last season. Bowen is in his eighth year as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets after briefly serving as a video coordinator and administrative assistant under McCaffery at Iowa.

Since McCaffery’s other two assistants — Sherm Dillard and Kirk Speraw — are in their 60s, Francis’ replacement will almost certainly be someone much younger and all those candidates qualify. Bowen is 43, Oliver 40, Horner 35 and Gatens 29.

But this would be a step down for Bowen and a lateral move (at best) for Oliver. It would be a major step up for Gatens and Horner has only been at Truman State for a year.

Don’t be surprised if the answer to this question is none of the above.

What will the Hawkeyes do with the scholarships vacated by NBA-bound Tyler Cook and Akron-bound Maishe Dailey?

Maybe nothing, for now. It’s likely that McCaffery and his staff will opt to hold onto them and use them for recruits in the 2020 class. It’s possible they could use them on transfers or 2019 recruits but any high school player they might sign this late is likely to be a secondary type prospect.

It’s not as though they are in a desperate situation with big holes to fill in the rotation for next season anyway.

If the Hawkeyes were to take a Division I transfer, who are the most likely possibilities?

First of all, remember that Iowa has not taken a Division I transfer since Jarrod Uthoff. This isn't something McCaffery likes to do very often.

However, the Hawkeyes have been linked with several possible transfers in recent weeks. They already have been eliminated in two of those cases. Akron’s Daniel Utomi decided to go to USC and South Dakota State’s David Jenkins has narrowed his list to seven schools. Iowa isn’t one of them.

They also have been mentioned in connection with Notre Dame forward D.J. Harvey and the Hauser brothers — Sam and Joey — who have announced plans to leave Marquette.

Getting the Hausers would be a major coup for the Hawkeyes. Sam, a 6-foot-8 forward, has one year of eligibility remaining and Joey, a 6-9 forward who was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school, has three.

Both players are cut from the same mold. Both are 40-percent-plus 3-point shooters who can pass and rebound. Sam averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while making 88 3s last season. Joey made the All-Big East freshman team last season after averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and making 44 3s. They also were second and third on the team in assists.

The competition to get the Hausers will be tough. They have said they plan to visit Wisconsin, Michigan State and Virginia in addition to Iowa. They're from Wisconsin and they would fit in very well at Virginia so the Hawkeyes probably are a longshot. But they are in the rare position of having two scholarships open.

It doesn't hurt that Joey Hauser was an AAU teammate of Joe Wieskamp on the Iowa Barnstormers.

D.J. Harvey, a 6-6 forward, was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school. He played in 19 games as a freshman with the Fighting Irish before being sidelined by a knee injury. He underwent microfracture surgery, then started the first 29 games last season, averaging 10.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages weren’t the greatest — 39.0 from the field, 29.9 from 3-point range — and there was speculation that Harvey was slow to recover from the knee problems.

Harvey, who played AAU ball in Washington D.C. with Iowa’s Luka Garza, reportedly is also considering Marquette, USC, Houston, Georgetown, Auburn, Maryland, Xavier, Cincinnati and Nevada.

Whoever takes him will be gambling that he can regain his former level of athleticism while sitting out next season.

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