Stars rule the world. We watch them dance, lose our minds when there is a war amidst them, chase after them in mobile games and when it comes to recruiting sites we treat them like prized trading cards to be collected and bragged about.
When you hear people talk about recruiting now, it calls to mind memories of playground humble-brags long past.
"Did you see the three-star recruit Michigan landed?!"
"Yeah he looks pretty good, but how about the five-star Michigan State just nabbed!"
Holographic cards are replaced by glowing screens; displaying names, faces and glimmering gold stars. It is perhaps a cynical view of the age of internet recruiting sites, but that does not mean I believe their evaluation system is without merit. However, much can get lost in reducing a player to 1-to-5 rating scale.
Enter Dale Jones, the sixth and final member of the Iowa Hawkeyes 2015 recruiting class. Jones, a native of Waterloo, Iowa returns home after playing two years at Tyler Junior College. According to Rivals, the 6-foot-8 power forward is a three-star recruit, the same as the five other players who accompany him in the class of 2015.
What that rating does not tell us is that Jones was just 6-foot-5 coming out of high school, very undersized for a forward, and did not receive offers from any major program. Undeterred, Jones traveled down to Tyler, Texas to play for Iowa native Mike Marquis. Not only did Jones' ability grow under Marquis, so did his stature, sprouting up three inches during his time there, proving once-and-for-all that everything really is bigger in Texas.
Jones impressed last season, averaging 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 45-percent from long range and 84-percent from the foul line. While he is sure to face stiffer competition in the Big Ten, he has played in meaningful games. Tyler Junior College captured the Region XIV championship last season and advanced to the second round of the NJCAA tournament. Jones showed leadership as a captain of that team and was an honorable mention for the NJCAA All American team.
The role for Jones with Iowa seems tailor-made, stepping right into shoes of departed senior Aaron White. Jones is a capable screen-setter, can drive-and-dish and is a more proficient 3-point shooter than White ever was.
"I feel like I can come in there and make a huge impact for Iowa," said Jones in an interview with Rick Brown of Hawk Central.
The opportunity is certainly there for Jones, and he will benefit from playing for a coach who is out to assemble a strong, cohesive deck of cards, not just shiny ones. With previous development and a frontcourt in flux, this could be the time for Jones to step in and make an early contribution for a Hawkeye team looking to make its third NCAA Tournament in a row. Jones may not be the 5-star recruit some fanbases demand, but he certainly appears to be one that fans will cherish when he finally leaves the program.