Recruiting mailbag: Will Tyreke Locure transfer to a school in Iowa?
Hi, everyone. Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.
Before we get going, quick shoutout to Jeff Horner and Truman State basketball.
In his third year in charge, the former Mason City star and standout Hawkeye guard has Truman State, a Division II program in Kirksville, Missouri, in the D-II Elite Eight. The Bulldogs are 20-2 and were the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region. They'll play Flagler (17-2) Wednesday night at 8:45 for a spot in the Final Four.
Horner is leading this success with mostly Iowa players. He coached at West Des Moines Valley and at North Dakota before landing this job, and he recruits Iowa like nobody's business. Nine Iowans play on his roster, including six he's brought on in the past two recruiting cycles. He was named the Great Lakes Valley Coach of the Year this year, and four of his players earned all-conference honors, including player of the year Cade McKnight, a redshirt junior from Grinnell, and freshman of the year Masen Miller, out of Iowa City Regina.
By the way: He's adding four more Iowans in the 2021 class in Montezuma point guard Trey Shearer, Cedar Falls post Joe Knutson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy forward Caleb Schlaak and North Scott wing Landon Eiland.
Iowa is filled to the brim with D-II basketball talent, and Horner has tapped into that continuous pipeline.
So, watch tonight. Remember, 8:45 p.m. You can watch the live stream here.
Let's get to a loaded mailbag. This week, we focus on what's next for former Des Moines North star Tyreke Locure after transferring from South Alabama, the latest with T.J. Otzelberger and Iowa State recruiting, emerging targets for Drake basketball, potential Iowa basketball walk-on news and if a pair of fringe Power Five in-state football prospects will both wind up staying in Iowa.
Will Tyreke Locure be playing basketball in the state of Iowa next year?
As of Wednesday morning, I don't think so.
In case you missed it: Tyreke Locure, the former Des Moines North star point guard who committed to South Alabama, entered the transfer portal this week after two productive seasons with a lot of minutes played for the Jaguars.
John Lamb, his former AAU coach with Beyond Ball, told me Tuesday that Locure had heard from Missouri State, Rhode Island, San Diego, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Nebraska-Omaha, Tulsa, UAB, South Dakota State, Montana State and Morehead State since entering the portal.
Locure is coming back home from Mobile, Alabama, to Des Moines to train and focus on his recruitment, Lamb said. In high school, Locure committed to South Alabama during his first visit there, despite holding interest from a handful of other schools.
"He wants to really do the recruiting process. He wants to come closer to home," Lamb told me. "He's making every conscious decision to do this the right way. Some of the words he said were, 'I really want to find the right fit long-term. I really want to enjoy the recruiting process to find a home.'"
Here's why it doesn't sound like that home will be in Iowa.
Drake's coaching staff is meeting this week to discuss recruiting and iron out needs for the spring recruiting cycle. The Bulldogs definitely don't need another point guard in their rotation, especially one who would want immediate playing time, with Roman Penn and Joseph Yesufu leading a deep position group.
It would also be a surprise if Iowa State recruited Locure. Even though Lamb said new head coach T.J. Otzelberger liked Locure as an assistant in Ames and as head coach at South Dakota State, recruiting him to Ames just doesn't make sense right now. Locure is a ball-dominant point guard. And Iowa State is going all-out to retain four-star signee Tyrese Hunter, another ball-dominant point guard. The Cyclones don't want to do anything that might hurt their chances with Hunter.
Locure played a lot off the ball at South Alabama this year. He's a guy who needs the ball in his hands to make magic happen, whether for him or a teammate. He should go somewhere where he's the primary ball-handler who runs the show.
Missouri State has that need. And it would be fun to see Locure in the Missouri Valley Conference, where I think he could be special. Rhode Island also needs a point guard badly after Fats Russell entered the transfer portal, and it plays in the Atlantic 10, a great mid-major conference. But it is far from home. South Dakota State is also an interesting option. They wanted him coming out of high school, and they were quick to get involved Tuesday afternoon.
Locure averaged 13.5 points, five rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a sophomore, and 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game as a freshman.
What have you heard regarding T.J. Otzelberger and Iowa State recruits?
I've talked to plenty of people over the last week to get a sense of what's happening on the Otzelberger-led Cyclones recruiting trail.
Here are a few things:
- Iowa State is already involved with at least a couple high-end targets in the transfer portal, but it's also still waiting to see how its current 2021 roster shapes up before going all-out on anyone just yet.
- Junior college is very much an option on the table. Former coach Steve Prohm's staff liked forward Chris Payton and guard Tyem Freeman at Indian Hills, and I'm told that interest has carried over to the new staff, as well.
- Outside of retaining Hunter, perhaps the biggest immediate recruiting priority for Otzelberger and assistant coach Daniyal Robinson was re-offering Ames 2022 point guard Tamin Lipsey and "doing right by him," I was told — basically making him feel like a major, top-level priority for Otzelberger's Cyclones.
- Things are also looking good for Iowa State to keep Xavier Foster in Ames. A big reason for that? Otzelberger keeping Robinson on staff. Robinson has been one of Foster's biggest advocates since his high school days at Oskaloosa, and the 7-footer would likely have a large, wide-ranging role next year if he stays.
- Otzelberger is already reaching out to in-state AAU coaches. Or, at least one. Hank Huddleson, the program director of Martin Bros, told me he talked on the phone with Otzelberger earlier this week. Just a sort of, "Hey, glad to be back at Iowa State, I'll have a clearer picture of our recruiting needs before too long" type of deal.
Any Marvin Johnson tidbits for Drake? Any other transfer news?
Eastern Illinois graduate transfer guard Marvin Johnson included Drake in his final four schools last week alongside Arkansas, Mississippi State and New Mexico State.
The first team all-Ohio Valley Conference, 6-6 guard averaged 15.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.9 steals this season. He reportedly also heard from Florida, Texas A&M and TCU after entering the transfer portal.
First of all: This is a good look for Drake to be among the finalists for a player considered one of the top transfer guards on the market.
Second: I'm told the Bulldogs feel good about where they stand with Johnson, a native of Ardmore, Oklahoma, which sits between Oklahoma City and Dallas, Texas.
I also got a chance to message with Johnson a bit this week.
"I love what they have been building these last couple years," Johnson told me about the Bulldogs. "They are also very team-oriented. I like the fact that they are very mature and have a lot of experienced players. And my favorite color is blue so that’s a plus. They have a nice back court if they do return."
Johnson told me he's looking for a school where he can have a point guard role and "a place that has all the pieces to win."
He also said he plans to make a decision after the NCAA Tournament concludes.
I might suggest Drake fans don't hold their breath on this one, just because the Bulldogs are competing with some big fish here. Arkansas is Sweet 16-bound and a hot team on the recruiting trail with Eric Musselman leading the way.
In terms of other transfers, Drake, like any school, is keeping its eyes and ears open for any transfer that could be a fit for its program. Like I said earlier, Bulldogs coaches are meeting this week to discuss recruiting. Johnson appears to be the main transfer target for now, but we'll see what unfolds in the coming weeks.
Drake also still has its eye on Florida SouthWestern guard Terry Roberts, a juco product who holds a handful of mid-major offers, with South Florida being the most recent.
Are there any Drake players who may transfer OUT of the program to seek playing time elsewhere?
As of right now, Drake expects everyone back next year.
But attrition is always a possibility, especially with players who aren't expected to have a significant role the following season. There are a handful of players for whom that's the case at Drake, although they're all still young.
Bulldog fans are obviously hoping Yesufu doesn't enter the portal to transfer to a high-major program. But, by all accounts, the rising star is happy and loves it at Drake. And with him and the rest of the roster returning, plus the addition of four-star wing Tucker DeVries, the Bulldogs could be good enough to get preseason top-25 votes.
Do you think it would be likely a school could land both Kale Krogh and Corey Phillips in state?
First, some background ...
Corey Phillips is a 6-5, 235-pound tight end out of Ames with offers from Central Florida, Kansas and Northern Iowa, although the UCF and Kansas offers were from coaching staffs no longer there. He is our No. 11 in-state 2022 prospect.
Kale Krogh is a 6-6, 265-pound offensive lineman out of Ballard with offers from UNI, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Penn, Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Tulane, Columbia and Bowling Green. He is our No. 12 in-state 2022 prospect.
So, yes, it's entirely possible both in-state prospects stay in Iowa for college. The easiest route right now is if both commit to UNI. Simple. Done and done.
It's also possible with Iowa and Iowa State. The Hawkeyes and Cyclones have expressed interest in both players, they tell me. Krogh's recruitment has really seen a bump lately, as his initial offers from UNI and Eastern Michigan seemed to open the floodgates, so to speak.
Other schools interested in Phillips and Krogh (who were both impressive at the state basketball tournament) include Kansas State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and South Dakota.
Arkansas is also monitoring Phillips, and Vanderbilt is taking a look at Krogh.
With Austin Ash and Michael Baer leaving the Iowa program any word on possible walk-ons?
Iowa still has to address its scholarship-player needs over the next couple of weeks before it transitions to any serious walk-on discussion.
Waukee wing Payton Sandfort is Iowa's lone 2021 signee. As of right now, Luka Garza and Jordan Bohannon are leaving, so the Hawkeyes will have at least one more scholarship to work with. (Fran McCaffery does always have some scholarship flexibility with two sons on the team, though.)
The wild card is Joe Wieskamp. Will he stay or declare for the NBA Draft?
Then, of course, there's the possibility of attrition due to players transferring out. And with the NCAA's one-time immediate eligibility rule taking effect next season, this year's transfer portal will be more crowded than ever.
I by no means have any inside information on this, but I've heard chatter that Jack Groeteke, a 6-10 unsigned senior at Dowling Catholic who's lean but can shoot 40% from long range, is open to walking on at a high-academic school. Would Iowa fit that bill? And would Iowa be interested? I don't know. Just some information.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Drake basketball and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.