Saturday seemed surreal for Ryan Kriener. He grew up watching televised games from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Now, he was visiting the facility as a recruit.
Kriener, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound power forward from Spirit Lake (IA) High and the Iowa Barnstormers, accepted an invitation for the unofficial trip when the Hawkeye coaches called his prep staff.
"I was really excited because they're a high-major program in the state. They've been really good for a lot of years. I grew up a Hawk fan. It was kind of a big deal," Kriener said.
The Class of 2016 prospect reports scholarship offers from Northern Iowa, Indiana State, Western Illinois and South Dakota State. He said he's hearing from Iowa, Creighton, Nebraska, Minnesota, Drake, North Dakota State, South Dakota, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Pepperdine and San Jose State as well.
"As of right now, I do not have a scholarship to Iowa. I feel like they have high interest in me just by the way we talked and the way Coach McCaffery talked of me. That meant a lot to me," he said.
Kriener received a full tour of the Iowa facilities Saturday. He ate lunch with the team and then went to the football game against Ball State.
"I mainly talked with Coach (Fran) McCaffery. We sat down in his office and we talked about what's coming up with the Hawkeyes, who they'll be losing. We talked about how he thought I fit in. Then, we kind of just talked about basketball," he said.
The Head Hawkeye conveyed to Kriener what he liked about his game.
"Coach McCaffery told me that his favorite thing about me was that I can run the floor really well. I'm long. I can run the pick and roll. I play good D and I rebound. I can hit a consistent mid-range jumper. I can play with the ball or off the ball. He also said one of his favorite things about my game is that I can find the open man," Kriener said.
Kriener was reunited on the visit with Barnstormers program-mate Connor McCaffery, the coach's son and a Iowa commitment in the '17 class.
"I went to a lot of his (AAU) games and he came to a lot of mine. At various camps and at practices and scrimmages, that's where we played together the most. When you play with the Barnstormers, we're always together off the court. We're usually in the same groups hanging out," Kriener said.
Creighton and South Dakota State each has played host to Kriener on an unofficial visit. He's been to UNI three or four times, he said.
"I'm currently trying to line up a lot of trips. Coaches have been sending me dates on when they would like to have me visit. I'm just trying to figure out what will work for me," he said.
Kriener said he would like to study business in college and also has an interest in becoming a college coach. That ties into what he looks for in a school.
"The most important thing is that it's just a good fit, where I could go and feel at home. I want to have a good time playing and have fun. As for any player, you don't want to go to a school and play maybe one year. You look at the roster and see if you have a chance to play. On top of that, academics and what kind of degree I can get from the school is important," Kriener said.