IOWA CITY, Iowa – At the most, two days out of the year Fran McCaffery can exhale when it comes to recruiting.
Wednesday was one of the days because it marked the start of the early fall signing period and the end of a grueling pursuit of players. There is also a spring signing period in April, but McCaffery has used all of his available scholarships for the 2015-16 recruiting class.
McCaffery used them on three frontline players, including heralded 4-star forward Tyler Cook from St. Louis, and on sharpshooting guard Jordan Bohannon, who is the son of former Iowa quarterback Gordy Bohannon and a senior at Linn-Mar.
Rounding out the four-player class are 6-10 forward Ryan Kreiner from Spirit Lake and 6-8 forward Cordell Pemsl from Dubuque Wahlert.
Cook picked Iowa over a host of Division I scholarship offers. He had narrowed his list to Iowa, Florida and Arkansas before committing to the Hawkeyes.
“It’s a blessing,” Cook said. “It means a lot to me. I found everything I was looking for in Iowa and I feel like I’ve joined a new family. I can’t wait to get to work in Iowa City.”
Patience, persistence and having success on the court all paid dividends in McCaffery’s quest to land Cook.
Iowa has played in the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons and won an NCAA Tournament game last March for the first time since 2001.
“We’ve been recruiting Tyler for quite some time,” McCaffery said Wednesday at a press conference. “He’s special in a lot of different ways, starting with his character. He comes from a phenomenal family and he really understands how to play. He understands how to be great. What I see in him is as great as he is; I see even greater potential, because he’s played primarily the power forward position most of his life.”
McCaffery plans to utilize Cook’s versatility at several positions and not just at power forward where Cook mostly played in high school.
“You take one look at him, and you know that’s why he’s there, but there’s a lot more in his game,” McCaffery said. “He can handle the ball, he can run, he can make plays off the dribble, he can shoot the ball, and that’s the kind of player that I envisioned, somebody that has the flexibility to play in transition and play on the perimeter, play in the post, and impact the game in so many different ways.”
Pemsl was the first player to commit to the class on May 1, 2014.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and I can’t wait to make it my reality,” Pemsl said of being a Hawkeye. “I’ve worked extremely hard for this day I can’t wait to make the state proud.”
Kreiner also appreciates the chance to be a Hawkeye.
“I cannot express how excited I am to play and represent my state’s program, to play for the name in front of my jersey,” Kreiner said.
Bohannon signing with Iowa makes him sort of trail blazer in his family, considering his three older brothers played at different Division I schools. His oldest brother, Jason Bohannon, was Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 2006 and a standout shooting guard for Wisconsin from 2006-10, while another older brother, Matt Bohannon, is currently a senior guard for Northern Iowa.
A third older brother, Zach Bohannon joined Air Force out of Marion in 2009, but then transferred to Wisconsin.
“I am blessed and honored to have the opportunity to fulfill a lifetime dream of becoming an Iowa Hawkeye,” Jordan Bohannon said. “I am excited to continue my career playing for a phenomenal coaching staff with great teammates, while attending an elite institution in the city where I was born.”
Kreiner, Pemsl and Bohannon all played AAU basketball together with Martin Brothers. They also serve as proof that McCaffery is working hard to land who he feels are the best players from in state.
“There is no question about that,” McCaffery said. “I think whoever the coach is here should do that. You have opportunities, if you think about it, you’ve got unofficial visit opportunities, and it’s hard to get a guy from Florida to visit you unofficially. It’s going to be at his own expense.
"So we have Iowa kids, we’re going to invite them down. We are going to invite young kids and get them on our campus, get them to our practice, get them to our football games, get them to know our players.”
This four-player class comes on the heels of Iowa signing six players in the previous recruiting class. It also comes after a two-year stretch in which the Hawkeyes made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances under McCaffery, who is in his sixth season as head coach.
Meanwhile, the Iowa women’s basketball team also signed four players on Wednesday. The class is ranked 18th nationally by Blue Star Basketball and includes 6-1 Linn-Mar forward Amanda Ollinger and 5-10 Mason City guard Makenzie Meyer.
The other two players in the class are 5-6 guard Alexis Sevillian from Goodrich, Mich., and 5-10 guard Bre Cera from Mukwonago, Wis.
They signed with an Iowa program that has combined to win 53 games in the last two seasons under head coach Lisa Bluder. The Iowa women’s basketball team also advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 last season for the time under Bluder.