Before he left the field to head into the stands prior to Saturday’s football game at Iowa, Class of 2017 forward Christian Negron received a hug from Fran McCaffery. The Hawkeye Hoops Head Coach expressed his gratitude for the Illinois product visiting the school.
The act continued a process of McCaffery making the top prospect feel wanted. The approach stretched back to before Iowa offered the Elgin (IL) Larkin High and Mac Irvin Fire standout a scholarship in June.
"Since the first time I met him, Coach McCaffery has let me know that I’m a priority recruit," the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Negron said. "It was the same this weekend when he impressed upon me that he really wanted me to be a Hawkeye and talked to me about all the ways he would use me. He’s really down to earth and honest and that’s what you look for in a head coach."
Also in June, Negron teamed up with Connor McCaffery, Fran’s oldest son and ’17 Iowa verbal, at the Nike Elite 100 Camp in St. Louis. They hung out together on Saturday after continuing to bond since the summer.
"They put us together at the Elite 100 and we gelled on the court. From there, we’ve built a close relationship," Negron said.
Negron averaged about 13 points and 11 rebounds as a Larkin sophomore. He also reported scholarship offers from Illinois, DePaul and Bradley. Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin and Xavier were among a group of schools showing him consistent interest he said.
"I’m hoping to pick up more offers," he said. "I’m starting to get a feel for who’s most interested and who I’m focusing in on but I want to keep that between me and my family. I’m not close to making any decisions or committing anywhere, but I’m just trying to get a jump start on things by taking visits and researching the schools."
Indiana Assistant Rob Judson watched Negron at an open gym on Tuesday, the junior said. Illinois Assistant Paris Parham also has been by Larkin recently, he added.
"I haven’t set up any more visits yet but Coach Judson and Coach Parham both want me to get to their schools soon," Negron said. "I’ll probably try to get out there."
Negron has visited Champaign before. Saturday represented his first stop in Iowa City. Assistant Sherman Dillard provided him with a campus tour, which included a trip downtown.
"The first thing that stuck out to me was how the Iowa coaching staff seems so united and on the same page. That’s important," Negron said. "The city was really beautiful and the people there all were really nice to me. I could tell that the Hawkeye fans were passionate about their teams."
Negron said he’s leaning towards a Business Marketing major and liked what he saw in regards to what Iowa offered in that area.
"They also showed me all of the basketball facilities and Carver-Hawkeye Arena and they were magnificent," he said. "I was really impressed. It was all amazing."
Negron said he plays both forward spots for Mac Irvin. For Larkin, he spends most of his time at shooting guard and small forward. He said he’s comfortable playing the 2-4 on both ends of the floor.
"Coach McCaffery said that he sees me as a match-up nightmare," Negron said. "He said he could see me taking a bigger guy away from the basket and blowing by him. With a smaller guy, I would be able to post him up."
Negron left Iowa City feeling good about the Hawkeyes and looking forward to furthering the relationship with them.
"From an academic and a basketball standpoint, they offer a lot," he said. "I really like Iowa."