IOWA CITY -- Like most college basketball coaches, Iowa's Fran McCaffery must think several years ahead when assessing the health of his program.
Despite a national ranking and the potential for the school's first NCAA appearance in eight years, McCaffery spent part of his week looking ahead to the future. He was on the road recruiting and breaking down the needs for upcoming classes. The Hawkeyes currently employ two available scholarships for 2014 and will have three more open in 2015.
McCaffery said right now the position doesn't matter; it's about talent level and fit.
"We’re open to the best player," McCaffery said. "I’m looking for impact. I’m looking for guys that, without question, can come in and help us. It doesn’t mean they have to be a star. But they have to be impact.
"They have to be somebody I can put in a game and know what we’re going to get based on their skill set. And then those skill sets have to fit with what else we have in the program and what else we’re trying to bring in. I try not to stockpile one position if I can help it."
In November, Iowa signed 6-foot-3 shooting guard Brady Ellingson and 6-foot-8 forward Dominique Uhl. Both expect to compete for time right away. But the Hawkeyes lose significant experience and production after this spring, which make replacements that much more important.
Guard Devyn Marble ranks 17th in career scoring at 1,325 points. Forward Melsahn Basabe is 23 points shy of 1,000 and also boasts 82 career starts. Forward Zach McCabe has played in 116 games with 39 starts, 775 points and routinely plays in the final minutes of close games. As for the juniors, Iowa will have to replace forward Aaron White, center Gabe Olaseni and guard Josh Oglesby in 2015.
"Basabe is a 1,000-point scorer," McCaffery said. "Marble is one of the best players in the league. McCabe will be very close to 1,000-point scorer.
"Aaron White is one of the best players to ever play here. Olaseni is really blossoming and is going to have a fabulous year next year, and Oglesby has been terrific. We’ve got a lot to replace here, and you’ve got to be careful not to throw a scholarship out just to get a body to fill a scholarship."
To replace those players, McCaffery wants value. He's not desperate to sign players just to fill scholarships.
"If we felt like there was a good player that we could get we would take him," McCaffery said. "If we felt like there were two good players we could get, we would take them. And then you would go into next year. If there’s nobody that we’re thrilled with, we’ll carry them both. We’ll go with this group.
"I only will sign a guy if I think he can help our team. Obviously it’s nice having two scholarships going into the spring. We’re looking to the next class because of who we lose in the next two classes. We lost six really good players. So that’s why it’s critical that we don’t just get a body and say, 'We’re going to go one and three, one and four, two and two, whatever, two and three.' Because you think about who we’re replacing."When I’m looking at a guy, he’s got to be able to come in and help us. We obviously would hope we get a lottery pick and a first-team All-American but at the very least I’d hope to put him in a Big Ten game and he’ll be successful in helping us win Big Ten games."