Oskaloosa five-star 2020 PF Xavier Foster, a major Iowa and Iowa state target, shows off an improved shooting stroke at local AAU tournament. Matthew Bain, firstname.lastname@example.org
ANKENY, Ia. — Cole Henry caught a pass on the perimeter, head-faked like he was rising up for a 3-pointer before running free through the lane for a thunderous, one-handed dunk.
That was probably the best play from last weekend's Iowa Gym Rats Kings of the Court, an AAU basketball tournament in Ankeny featuring almost all of Iowa's club teams.
It's also an example of Henry's improvement this spring.
During the high school season, the 6-foot-9 Oskaloosa junior was almost exclusively an isolation or back-to-the-basket scorer. Now, he's focusing on improving his 3-point shot to make himself more of a versatile offensive threat.
He went 1-for-2 from long range in the Martin Bros 17U game I saw. If his defender doesn't have to respect his 3-pointer, there's no way Henry streaks through the lane unimpeded for that highlight dunk.
But the defender did have to respect the threat of Henry's snappy, high-release shot. He briefly hesitated, allowing Henry to blow by.
"Every day after school I'm in the gym, two or three hours a day, trying to get my shot good and my free throw good," Henry said. "That's the main thing I need to work on."
Henry's not the only Iowa prospect improving — and seeing his recruiting stock improve as a result.
Here's the latest news I'm hearing on all of Iowa's top college basketball prospects — from the five-stars to the guys seeking their first Division I offer.
D.J. Carton, PG, Bettendorf, No. 1 in-state 2019 prospect
Ohio State is gaining some traction with Carton, a newly minted five-star point guard from Bettendorf. The Buckeyes are among his final six schools, along with Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Marquette and Xavier. Carton's coaches said he doesn't have any visits scheduled yet. He can't realistically schedule anything until he finds out if he makes the U18 National Team. Try-outs are next week in Colorado Springs. If Carton makes the team, he would compete at the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas Championship June 10-16. Carton is targeting a late-summer decision.
Xavier Foster, PF, Oskaloosa, No. 1 in-state 2020 prospect
Foster's AAU program director, BG Regins, said the 6-foot-11, five-star prospect will take an unofficial visit to USC while he's at the Pangos All-American Camp next weekend in California. Don't be surprised if he picks up an offer. Regins also said Oklahoma State and Florida State have started showing interest. Foster normally plays for Pure Prep Academy, but he played with Keeside Elite last weekend, a squad thrown together just for Kings of the Court. I noticed two things right away: He looked stronger and his handle had improved.
"Finding new ways to get to the rim and finding new ways to score," Foster said of what he's working on. "It's pretty easy to guard someone who can't dribble and just shoots."
He also said that, other than the in-state schools, Baylor is showing him the most love right now.
Tyreke Locure, PG, Des Moines North, No. 3 in-state 2019 prospect
Locure is still among a group of point guards Iowa is evaluating should Carton commit elsewhere, but the Hawkeyes have faded a bit from Locure's recruiting landscape. Minnesota, meanwhile, has picked up its interest. Locure's Beyond Ball program director, John Lamb, said Gophers assistant coach Ed Conroy has been reaching out a lot lately. Locure is still fielding low- and mid-major interest, too, which are the most likely options at this point. He currently holds a North Dakota offer. Darian DeVries' Drake staff is waiting to evaluate Locure later this offseason before deciding whether to re-offer him.
Even Brauns, PF, Iowa City West, No. 2 in-state 2020 prospect
Brauns, a 6-9 forward with springs in his legs, recently picked up his third D-I offer from Milwaukee (also holds offers from Drake and Northern Iowa). He's fielding additional interest from Iowa, DePaul, Creighton, Colorado State, Holy Cross, Davidson, Northern Illinois and South Dakota State. He said the strongest interest is coming from the in-state schools.
Trey Hutcheson, SF, Linn-Mar, No. 4 in-state 2019 prospect
Hutcheson just picked up his second D-I offer from Air Force; he already held a North Dakota offer. Jeff Horner's D-II Truman State has also offered. Like it is with Locure, Drake's new staff is waiting to evaluate Hutcheson before deciding whether to re-offer. He's also getting interest from Belmont, Milwaukee, UNI, Western Illinois, Omaha and Denver. He'll likely go to a couple elite camps this summer, like at Western Illinois, and maybe go out to visit Denver, which has been on him for a while.
Hutcheson is a silky-smooth, 6-5 wing who rarely makes mistakes or misses open shots. His ability to beat defenders off the dribble needs work, and he knows it.
"(I need to work on) ball-handling and lateral quickness," he said. "I can play the three at this level no problem, even the two a little bit just because I'm long and shoot it well. But when you get to the college level and the shooting guards are all 6-5, the length doesn't really work anymore."
Bowen Born, PG, Norwalk, No. 3 in-state 2020 prospect
Born recently picked up his first D-I offer from UNI. The Panthers love Born — expect a hearty recruitment from them. Drake and Omaha are also showing early interest in the 5-11 lefty point guard with an immaculate 3-point stroke and a nice ability to make things happen inside. Coaches would love him to grow a couple inches, but he'll still be a D-I player at 5-11. Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska and Minnesota are also aware of Born.
Noah Carter, PF, Dubuque Senior, No. 7 in-state 2019 prospect
Arguably the state's biggest stock-riser, Carter has hauled in offers from Lehigh, Air Force, South Dakota State and Truman State this spring. He's also picked up interest from Colorado State, North Dakota State, UNI, Princeton, Belmont, North Texas and Wofford, among others. Carter is an undersized big, but his lights-out 3-point shooting and constant high energy make him a legitimate mid-major prospect.
Cole Henry, PF, Oskaloosa, No. 9 in-state 2019 prospect
Air Force recently extended an offer to Henry, too, giving him three D-I offers from North Dakota, Air Force and Furman — which he said was his top school right now. Other schools showing interest include: Middle Tennessee, Wofford, Drake, UNI, Omaha and UC Santa Barbara. I mentioned Henry's improving 3-point shot earlier; the more range he adds to his offense, the scarier he gets. He's already a high-flying, 6-9 point-forward.
Zack Lasek, PF, Highland Riverside, No. 4 in-state 2020 prospect
Lasek is still receiving interest from UNI, which has had an eye on the springy, 6-8, 230-pounder since his freshman year. Iowa State is also looking at him for football, and Iowa recently invited him to summer camp for football.
Trayvon Williams, PG, West Des Moines Valley, No. 10 in-state 2019 prospect
Williams is playing with a really good 17U Kingdom Hoops squad this offseason, and that's only helping him bolster his stock. He reports offers from South Dakota State and Missouri-Kansas City, as well as interest from D-II Sioux Falls. The 6-3 point guard shines on defense and boasts a nice slashing offensive game.
Will Berg, PF, West Des Moines Valley, No. 5 in-state 2020 prospect
Berg, who's playing with Born on the Adidas-sponsored Iowa Barnstormers, holds interest from South Dakota, Nebraska, Omaha, Wayne State and UNI. Omaha is showing the most interest right now, he said.
Noah Hart, PG, Waukee, unranked 2019 prospect
Hart also recently picked up an offer from Air Force, his first D-I offer. He holds an offer from Truman State, too. He's getting D-I interest from South Dakota, Omaha, Drake, Navy and North Dakota. Hart wants to try to get out to camps at South Dakota and Omaha this summer. He's started playing off the ball more with the Iowa Barnstormers this spring, which has helped him develop his shooting.
"Catching and shooting 3s with a quick release is my biggest (area to improve)," Hart said.
Hart played with Foster last weekend on Keeside Elite. I always leave impressed after watching him play: He's a quick-thinking floor general with good accuracy. His consistency from long range needs work, which he knows. But there are plenty of schools out there looking for a pass-first point guard with a nice mid-range pull-up.
Dylan Jones, PF, Waukee, unranked 2019 prospect
A crafty 6-9 forward, Jones plays with Hart on the Barnstormers 17U team. He picked up an offer from Truman State, and he's getting some interest from Drake, Omaha, Air Force, some Ivy Leagues and D-IIs. He wants to develop more of a guard game this summer — his outside shot, his handle — to pair with his natural size.
Jake Hilmer, PG, North Linn, unranked 2019 prospect
Hilmer, who plays alongside Hart and Jones with the Barnstormers, is picking up new interest from D-I The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Omaha has been showing interest for a while, as has Drake. Hilmer holds three D-II offers from Upper Iowa, Truman State and Pittsburgh State.
Japannah Kellogg, SG/SF, Ames, unranked 2019 prospect
Kellogg has been playing alongside Iowa recruit Patrick McCaffery on a loaded D1Minnesota squad this offseason — he said he's been glad to be exposed to that kind of basketball. He's picked up low- and mid-major interest from Missouri-Kansas City, Green Bay, Presbyterian and Miami of Ohio. Kellogg, who also played on Keeside Elite last weekend, said he needs to work on his dribbling under pressure to become more versatile. A 6-6 lefty, Kellogg's natural position is the three, but he can also play in the backcourt.
"I'm trying to work on becoming more of a guard-forward," Kellogg said. "I'm already tall enough to play against the fours. I'd like to be able to play against the ones, twos and threes."
Derek Krogmann, PF, West Delaware, unranked 2019 prospect
Krogmann is fielding interest from South Dakota, South Dakota State and several D-IIs. He holds an offer from Truman State. He also held an offer from North Dakota, but he's not sure of the status of that since Horner took the Truman State job. Krogmann did well finishing through contact at Kings of the Court, but he wants to focus on stretching his game out this summer.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.