Iowa didn’t blow away Dale Jones on his official visit this past weekend. The Hawkeyes confirmed what they had been conveying to the junior college power forward for the last two years.
That was enough to secure a commitment from the 6-foot-8, 220-pounder from Tyler (TX) Junior College, he announced on Monday. He signed his national letter of intent, wrapping up Iowa’s six-man 2015 recruiting class.
"It wasn’t anything in particular on the visit, just the same things they were preaching throughout the entire recruiting process. I just felt like everything they told me about the school, the system, the classes there, the environment, was right on point when I saw it. I just felt that the last two years I could put my 100 percent trust in them. I feel like I can have great success there on and off the court," Jones said.
Jones averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent on three-pointers (104-of-229) and 83.9 from the foul line this season in helping Tyler reach the national tournament. He prepped at Waterloo West High and will have two years to play two seasons with the Hawkeyes.
Iowa Head Coach Fran Mccaffery and Assistant Andrew Francis began recruiting Jones during his true freshman season at Tyler (’12-13). They were positioned to potentially land him in the last recruiting cycle before he tore his ACL and needed to red shirt in ’13-14.
Jones came back strong this winter and the Hawkeyes had never stopped pursuing him, even after the injury. They sold him on his role.
"(McCaffery) told me they are losing a big part of their offense from last year, which is Aaron White. He was a versatile forward that could post littler guys and bring out bigger guys. I feel like I can come in and do the same thing. I think we’re very similar size and skilled the same way. I think that’s the main focus of me coming in and replacing him," Jones said.
Jones received moderate interest coming out of Waterloo West. He headed to Tyler to make a name for himself.
"My whole approach was to stay patient. I knew that (Tyler Coach Mike Marquis, an Iowa native) was going to get the job done if I put enough work in. I knew if I improved myself and we improved as a team, I was going to be put in a great situation," he said.
"Coming from Waterloo, Iowa, people talked about me not being talented enough or making it out of there because of my attitude or whatever. I think a lot of the schools told (Marquis) that they’ve been impressed and how I’m grown over the years."
Jones still is undecided about a major at Iowa.
"We’re going to break down my transcript and see what best fits me," he said.
Iowa junior-to-be Peter Jok hosted Jones on his official visit but he hung out with most members of the team.
"Those guys are very cool. They’re very laid back. They’re guys that can have fun but when they need to they are 100 percent committed to Iowa basketball. That’s what I liked. They like hard work and that’s what I like," he said.
Jones’ parents accompanied him on the Iowa visit. They were pleased with what they saw and the prospect of their son being within reasonable driving distance of their Waterloo home to watch him perform.
"I think they were really excited. They haven’t seen me play basketball since high school, so about three years now," Jones said.
Jones said he hasn’t yet worked out when he will move to Iowa City. He hoped to arrive by the end of June when the Prime Time League starts.
"I’m going to talk with Fran and see what he wants to do," Jones said.
Jones topped off a ’15 Iowa Class that came together in pieces. High school seniors Brandon Hutton, Ahmad Wagner, Andrew Fleming and Isaiah Moss signed up in November. Another 12th-grader, Christian Williams, inked his letter last week.
In addition to White, Gabe Olaseni and Josh Oglesby exhausted their eligibility this past season. Trey Dickerson announced he was leaving the program in February.
As it stands, the ’15-16 Hawkeyes will have four seniors (Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, Anthony Clemmons, Jarrod Uthoff), two juniors (Jok, Jones), one sophomore (Dom Uhl) and six freshmen (Hutton, Wagner, Fleming, Moss, Williams, Brady Ellingson) on scholarship.