For five years in their young lives, Connor McCaffery and Kevin Huerter spent a lot of time together. They shot, dribbled and passed, but never played organized basketball.
It looked like a long shot to happen when McCaffery moved away with his family five years ago. He and Huerter lived half a country apart.
Life has a strange way of keeping us connected to people with whom we mesh, though. McCaffery and Huerter remained in touch through text messages. They honed their games 1,100 miles apart and developed in to high-major college players.
Suddenly the odds of them teaming up increased. It became a distinct possibility a week ago.
Huerter, in the Class of 2016, picked up a scholarship offer from Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery. Connor (’17) committed to his father and the Hawkeyes last year.
The Huerters and McCaffery’s built a bond when Fran coached at Siena (Albany, NY) from 2005-10. Tom Huerter, Kevin’s father, led the school to its first NCAA Tournament in ’89, when it upset Stanford. He served as the team’s radio and television color commentary during McCaffery’s run there.
"He got pretty close with Fran through that," Kevin Huerter said of his dad. "I first met Connor at the Siena basketball camp. We were eight or nine. With both of our dads being around the team a lot, we got pretty close seeing each other at all the games and attending camps together. We were both ball boys mopping the floor during timeouts. We’d show up at the games early and play basketball."
Connor and Kevin increased their contact this season with their high school teams performing well. Connor shared Iowa City West’s run to the state Class 4A semifinals and Kevin did likewise with Clifton Park Shenendehowa High’s exploits in winning the New York State Class AA state title.
"After our season ended, (Fran McCaffery) texted my dad and said that they were very interested," Kevin said.
Fran McCaffery watched Huerter play in the EYBL Boo Williams Tournament (Hampton, VA) with his Albany City Rocks AAU squad April 10-12.
"I think I saw him at all of our games. He was texting back and forth with my dad all that weekend," Kevin said.
Last Wednesday, Fran McCaffery offered Huerter a scholarship on the phone.
"He was just talking about what he liked in my game and what he saw that weekend. He just said that they really liked me and that he would love for me to come and play alongside Connor at Iowa," Huerter said.
Huerter averaged 17.5 points as a junior, including a season high of 35. He played point guard for his high school team and has played point and off guard for City Rocks.
"I think I shoot it really well. I think I’m also unselfish. I’m pretty smart out on the court. I like to find my teammates. I need to keep getting better and stronger. I need to keep working on my game and my ball handling and defense," he said.
In addition to Iowa, Huerter reports scholarships offers from Siena, Albany, Creighton, Davidson, Duquesne, Rice, Xavier, Maryland, Penn State, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State.
"Michigan is pretty interested. I recently talked on the phone with Coach (John) Beilein. Villanova is pretty interested. I’ve heard a little bit from Virginia and Notre Dame," he said.
Huerter said that he’s taking his time with recruiting, trying to become comfortable with the coaches, the schools and all they have to offer academically and athletically. He said he’ll start taking campus visits in the upcoming months and then narrow things down.
Iowa is likely to be in the mix for Huerter’s services until the end, he said. He believes he fits the system well. And, the background with the McCafferys creates a built-in comfort level he’s searching for in the process.
"It even got to where my sisters were hanging out with the littlest McCaffery sister. Our moms were even close with each other at one point. Obviously, the families knowing each other and having that family relationship that will definitely help going away to school all the way out to Iowa and helping my mom get passed the fact that I’m going away to college," Huerter said.
Huerter said his college major would be in Business.