IOWA CITY, Iowa – When freshmen Brandon Hutton and Andrew Fleming both recently decided to leave the Iowa basketball team, two scholarships became available.
One of the scholarships already has been promised to 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman forward Nicholas Baer, while the other might ultimately be given to New York City point guard Christian Vital.
The 6-2, 175-pound Vital has Iowa in his top five schools, along with Connecticut, Louisville, Marquette and Alabama.
Vital previously had been committed to Nevada-Las Vegas, but never signed a letter of intent. He is now in the process of building a relationship with Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis, who is also from New York City.
“I feel pretty highly of them and their program,” Vital said. “Coach Francis does a good job of staying up to date with me.”
With the graduation of senior guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons from a team that made a third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Iowa’s backcourt will mostly be inexperienced next season.
Sophomore-to-be Christian Williams is the only returning player on the roster who saw any significant time at point guard last season.
Iowa already has signed Linn-Mar point guard Jordan Bohannon to its 2016 class, but still are searching for depth at the guard position.
Rather than seek a graduate-transfer or a junior college guard, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery appears more interested in landing a high school prospect.
Vital said the Iowa coaches feel he can contribute immediately, but that nothing will be handed to him.
“That has been talked about, but I know I would need to earn every second (of playing time),” Vital said.
Vital still is in the process of setting up visits, but hopes to get to Iowa City soon. He only has three official visit left.
“I’m looking for a place that has a family atmosphere,” Vital said. “Somewhere I can earn minutes right away on a winning team and compete for a national championship.”
Hutton and Fleming both announced shortly after the season their plans to transfer. Hutton, a 6-5 wing player, was redshirted this past season, while the 6-5 Fleming played sparingly as a shooting guard.