A major aspect of creating a successful college basketball program is recruiting. With rosters constantly fluctuating, it is up to the coaching staff to ensure that the program will still be in good hands after a successful class has moved on.
After three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, Iowa basketball has failed to make the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons. This past season saw the Hawkeyes finish 14-19, and tie a school-worst 4-14 in Big Ten play. These struggles can be chased back to the recruiting classes of 2014 and 2015.
Those two classes, filled with players that were supposed to be upperclassmen this past season only had one player that had meaningful minutes. Isaiah Moss started all 33 games for Iowa and had a decent season, averaging 11.1 points per game while shooting 42% from the field and 38.6% from three.
Other than Moss, the list of players from those classes is not good.
From the 2014 class:
Dom Uhl: Uhl was a contributor in his first two seasons with the Hawkeyes. He was a key guy off the bench in 2015-16, averaging 6 ppg and 3 rpg in 17 minutes. However, his minutes decreased as a junior and this past year was not even in the rotation.
Trey Dickerson: Dickerson was one of the top Junior College recruits so it looked like a great pickup when Iowa got him after the 2013-14 season. However, Dickerson struggled to get minutes behind Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons in 2014-15. He transferred after one forgettable season in Iowa. He has since played for both South Dakota and Georgetown.
Brady Ellingson: Ellingson redshirted his freshman season in 2014-15. After that, he would always start the season in the rotation, and then fall out by the end of the season. He was essentially a carbon copy of Josh Oglesby. He would have a great game every now and then but struggled with his confidence. Ellingson recently transferred to Drake as a grad transfer.
The 2015 class was a larger class, but the results were much of the same.
Ahmad Wagner: Wagner was a bench contributor for Iowa for the last three seasons. Wagner was not much of an offensive threat, but was solid defensively and was a pretty good rebounder. This season, with a jumbled front court rotation, Wagner constantly found himself playing out of position at the small forward. As a result, he was not effective. Wagner has decided to transition into playing football for a chance at a possible career in the NFL.
Dale Jones: Jones was another Junior College player that came to Iowa with a lot of promise. Jones was a big man that was considered a good shooter. Early on in his Iowa tenure, he showed that. Unfortunately for him, he could never stay healthy and battled through two injury-riddled seasons for Iowa before grad transferring to North Dakota. This year he had a very solid season for the Fighting Hawks playing for former Iowa assistant Brian Jones.
Christian Williams: Williams spent his first two years in Iowa City as the backup point guard. In his freshman year, he did not see the court much early in the season. However, he got playing time late in the year when he replaced Brady Ellingson in the rotation. Williams was a great defender but his offensive game was very limited. He ultimately transferred to Indiana State prior to this season after it became clear that he would be behind both Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery on the depth chart.
Andrew Fleming: Fleming was a player similar to Brady Ellingson. He entered Iowa with a reputation as a prolific shooter, but in his one season at Iowa, rarely saw game action. Since transferring from Iowa after his freshman season, Fleming has already played at two more schools. He attended Chattanooga, but never actually played for them and spent this past season as a reserve player for Lipscomb.
Brandon Hutton: Hutton was a forward from Chicago that came with the reputation as being a stout defensive player. Hutton, along with Moss, was redshirted during the 2015-16 season. However, after the season Hutton transferred from Iowa without ever playing a game. After spending a year in junior college, Hutton played last year at Northwestern State.
Obviously there are recruiting misses. But to have such a large number of misses in such a short time is not going to bode well for a basketball program.
Thankfully for Iowa, it appears that the 2016 and 2017 classes have helped alleviate many of the misses from the previous two classes. However, if Fran McCaffery wants to have sustained success at Iowa, there can not be any more wide spread misses as there was in the 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes.