'10 Hoops Class Unsettled by Lickliter Rumors

Ben Brust traveled to the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis on Thursday and ran smack into the speculation that Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter might be let go. The '10 Hawkeye recruit asked Gary Barta and Lickliter about it. Read what they told him and also the thoughts of fellow '10 commitments Cody Larson and Zach McCabe on the developing situation.

Ben Brust attended school on Friday but clearly was distracted.

"It's a very anxious time," he said on the phone shortly after arriving home.

Brust, a member of Iowa's 2010 recruiting class, is hearing the rumors that Coach Todd Lickliter's time at Iowa might be done. The speculation is running rampant after talk picked up Thursday at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, where Brust watched his future teammates.

"I have a lot of personal opinions that I think I'll just keep to myself," the combo guard from Illinois said. "When I looked at Iowa I had to make that decision based on Coach Lickliter being there. But it's out of my hands and I have to see what happens."

It's clear which way Brust prefers this situation to play out.

"I could have gone to Butler and won 30 games a year and played in the NCAA Tournament (right away)," he said. "I could have gone to Northwestern, who's fighting for the NCAA this year. I could have waited on Stanford and others.

"I chose Iowa because I believed in Coach Lickliter and this staff and the direction of the program. It is headed in the right direction and I think my class can help. Now, who knows?"

That seemed to be the sentiment of Brust's fellow '10 recruits – Zach McCabe and Cody Larson. None of them said they would be out if Lickliter were out, however. The fourth signee of the group, Devyn Marble, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

"If it happens, ultimately, my family and me would have to look at it and do what's best for me," said McCabe, who hails from Sioux City. "I would be very disappointed if Coach Lickliter were let go, though. He recruited me and I committed to him.

"This year's freshmen class did a lot and I think our class could come in and do a lot. It's headed in the right direction."

Iowa finished 10-22 this season (4-14 in the Big Ten). The Hawkeyes season ended on Thursday with a 59-52 loss to Michigan in the first-round of the Big Ten Tournament.

An Iowa City radio station reported on Thursday that Lickliter would be replaced at season's end. HawkeyeInsider.com reported from the tournament in Indianapolis on the story.

"I sent (Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta) an email (Thursday)," Brust said. "I told him that I was really looking forward to playing for Coach Lickliter. He responded saying he was looking forward to having me at Iowa next year.

"I guess the situation with Coach Lickliter was not for him to share. I took a shot."

Brust also spoke with Lickliter in the Iowa locker room after the game. The coach told the recruit what he knew.

"He just said that he was feeling great with his health and he was doing fine," said Brust, the only '10 recruit to speak with Lickliter about the situation as of Friday afternoon. "He told me that (Iowa) was his job unless he got fired."

Larson, from South Dakota, verbally committed to Iowa in September of '08. Scout.com has tabbed him as a four-star recruit on a five-star scale and the 23rd best power forward in the nation for his class.

"I had some Iowa fans come up to me (Thursday night) and tell me about the story with Coach Lickliter and then I talked to my coach about it," the 6-foot-9, 225-pounder said. "I've just heard that his status for next year is uncertain. I really don't know what that means for me.

"I'll have to see what happens. I don't want to jump to conclusions or make any irrational statements. I just want to take it as it comes."

Larson and McCabe said they join Brust in the opinion that they would be very disappointed to see Coach Lickliter leave Iowa.

"I'm looking forward to playing for him," Larson said. "I really like his style and he's an extremely great person. I stand behind him 100 percent in whatever he decides to do. This is pretty unsettling, but I'm not too worried."

Said McCabe: "I committed to both Coach Lickliter and the University of Iowa. It's a great place, but he's who I committed to. He believed in me. I believe in him. We talk quite a bit. He sends me emails and notes. He just sent one wishing me luck at state. That means a lot to me."

For now, they all wait to see what happens, if anything, with the coaching staff to which they committed.

"It's really just speculation at this point," Brust said. "It's out of our hands. If it's a new coach, we'll have to see who it is. Ultimately, I really hope Coach Lickliter and his staff stay."


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