IOWA CITY, Iowa - As he prepared his team for Friday's season-opener against Hampton, Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery took some time Wednesday to speak about the future beyond 2014-15.
When he met with the media early in the afternoon, McCaffery already had received national letters of intent from Oak Hill Academy Guard Andrew Fleming and Huber Heights (OH) Wayne High Forward Ahmad Wagner, who he could talk about per NCAA rules. The coach was expecting documents from Chicago wings Brandon Hutton and Isaiah Moss later in the day.
Here's what McCaffery had to say during press conference:
Q. Have you gotten any letters of intent?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, we have two (so far).
Q. Wagner obviously has played football this fall and gotten some looks for that. What is he playing for you, and is it power forward?
COACH McCAFFERY: He's got a lot of versatility, a great motor, tremendous athlete, great character. We felt like he was a great fit for what we did need and our style of play. We went after him hard, and we're thrilled that he's coming. No question he's going to make an immediate impact. He's a terrific player.
Q. How concerned were you with the football?
COACH McCAFFERY: I wasn't concerned at all.
COACH McCAFFERY: He's a man of his word. Why should I be?
Q. What about Fleming? He's an Oak Hill guy now. What do you like about him and see for him in the future?
COACH McCAFFERY: He’s versatile, can put on the deck, can make plays for other people. Athletic enough to play the small forward position, scores the ball well. He's a really good player. We're excited about him.
Q. Does he remind you a little bit of Matt Gatens in some respects?
COACH McCAFFERY: Thinking back, trying to compare them, I didn't recruit Matt at that time and see him that much at that age. I hope he becomes like Matt Gatens because that's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around. I do think he has some of those qualities. I think that's a fair comparison.
Q. Overall, what do you get from this class? Do you feel like it's a large class?
COACH McCAFFERY: I can only talk about the two guys.
Q. Not specifically, but just in general, the four guys you will get?
COACH McCAFFERY: Obviously, when you go after a particular recruiting class you're looking for certain things, and we feel like we've got them.
Q. Can you hold one to the spring or would you float that into '16?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, it could go either way on that. It depends on who is available in the spring. Especially now, there just seems to be an extraordinary amount of transfers every year, unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it. I don't see that trend changing so there might be somebody out there that we want. There are some who signed late, so we'll see.
Q. Is there something you guys can do as coaches or anything to stop the transfer issue? COACH McCAFFERY: Doesn't seem like it. It seems like, if anything, it's going the other way. You see some uncomfortable transfer situations, and you see some -- I think most people would want an athlete to be able to play wherever they want to play within reason. Unfortunately, sometimes there is tampering involved, and in those cases I think most people would say if there is tampering involved they shouldn't be allowed to move. But I still think we'll have kids sit out a year, and I would like to see that be across the board.
I think, if anything, if there is going to be a lot more transferring, I think the guys should have to sit out. With regard to the fifth-year transfer rule, I've said publicly many times it's the most ridiculous rule in sport and they should not be allowed to do that.
Q. Are you targeting a forward because of who you lost last year and who are you going after this year?
COACH McCAFFERY: You mean with the last one or just in general?
Q. In general.
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, I mean, obviously we lost Basabe and McCabe, and we're going to lose Olaseni and White, we need some size. So we've got, I think quality. We've got some size. We've got versatility. We'll need a little more size.
Q. Without speaking specifically about the two other kids, how important is it to get into Chicago for your recruiting? Do you think that's laying the ground work?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think more is made of that kind of stuff than should be, quite frankly. We've been into Chicago, and we've been well-received in Chicago. We've got great contacts there. You're right, Tom, it's loaded with talent across the board. It's a big city. You go into the city, you can go to the suburbs and there are players everywhere.
Does it help you that you get some guys? Well, certainly, because they're going to speak positively about their experience, and other guys may come, but there is a lot of competition in Chicago, too. Lot of people are coming into Chicago, so what you can't do is get overly consumed with going into an area. You have to address your needs that you have in recruiting. In a particular year you may be better served somewhere else. It's no reflection on Chicago. It's a matter of can we go into Chicago and get the guys we want in any given year? You can't guarantee that in any major city. I've been recruiting Philadelphia and New York Chicago, LA for years. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But we're going to keep going back in there because we need to.
There are excellent coaches, excellent players. I think typically those kids want to play in the Big Ten. Some will leave, some have left. But by and large they want to play in the Big Ten, and it's important to be in there.
McCaffery on Moss: “Isaiah is an athletic wing who can dribble, pass, and shoot,” said McCaffery. “He’s big enough to guard guys in the post and quick enough to guard guys on the perimeter. Isaiah is a big-time play maker, who can create his own shot and score at a high-rate. He’s also going to make an immediate impact on this team.”
McCaffery on Hutton: “We are thrilled that Brandon is going to be a Hawkeye,” said McCaffery. “He’s a tremendous athlete, a fierce competitor and is extremely versatile. As good as he is now, I believe with his work ethic and determination, he’s going to continue to improve. He’ll become someone who can be a lock-down defender, a great transition player, as well as a quality scorer.”
Watch what McCaffery said about the newest additions to his program: