The greatest stretch of basketball in program history — a run that included six straight NCAA Tournament appearances and three conference tournament titles — was followed up by a last-place finish in the Big 12 in 2017-18.
Order should be restored in Ames this season thanks to the return of four starters and the addition of two key transfers. The talent is on hand for Iowa State to once again be relevant in the Big 12 and return to the NCAA Tournament.
“Chemistry is the No. 1 key. Role identification and just playing for Iowa State,” coach Steve Prohm says. “I think that if we can do those three things at a very high level, then this team has a chance to do some really good things.”
At a Glance
HEAD COACH: Steve Prohm
2017-18 RECORD (BIG 12): 13-18 (4-14)
2017-18 POSTSEASON: None
F Jeff Beverly (4.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
F Hans Brase (2.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
G Donovan Jackson (15.0 ppg)
Cameron Lard was one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12 last year. As a freshman, the 6'9" forward recorded double-doubles in seven of Iowa State’s 18 Big 12 games and ended his rookie campaign with averages of 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. He will be joined by junior Solomon Young, who brings a wealth of Big 12 experience and, at 245 pounds, plenty of physicality. Iowa State is also excited about the potential of Nebraska transfer Michael Jacobson, who averaged 24.0 minutes and 6.0 points per game as a sophomore for the Cornhuskers in 2016-17.
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Zoran Talley, a 6'7" senior, struggled early in his first year after transferring from Old Dominion but was one of the team’s best players late in the season. The Indiana native scored 10-plus points in five of the last eight games.
The staff raves about 6'10" freshman George Conditt, who had an outstanding summer playing for team Puerto Rico in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Freshman Zion Griffin, a 6'6" small forward, is a four-star prospect who has a chance to make an impact on the wing right away.
Lindell Wigginton was the Big 12’s fifth-leading scorer at 16.7 points per game as a freshman last season. He tested the NBA waters in the summer but opted to return to Ames for at least one more season. Prohm, who has a reputation for developing point guards, has lofty expectations.
“He needs to be able to guard several positions due to his size and strength,” Prohm says. “He also needs to work on making his teammates better through decision making. If he grows in those areas, he will have a special year. He will be not only an elite guard in our league but an elite guard in the country.”
Wigginton will start beside senior Nick Weiler-Babb, who was playing fantastic basketball before going down with a leg injury that kept him out of nine games late in the season. Weiler-Babb scored at least 12 points in six of the first eight Big 12 games.
Marial Shayok is one of the most interesting players in the Big 12. He averaged 8.9 points per game as a junior at Virginia in 2016-17. Iowa State’s up-tempo style should allow him to be one of the top scorers on this team.
Talen Horton-Tucker, a Chicago native, is a top-75 national recruit who will be expected to contribute right away. Terrence Lewis, who averaged 11.0 minutes as a freshman, is another option for perimeter scoring.
Freshman Tyrese Haliburton will provide depth at the point.
Expectations are sky high internally — and for good reason. Prohm and his staff have compiled a roster loaded with talent that will have this program back in the mix in the Big 12. The challenge will be getting the newcomers to buy into specific roles. If it all clicks, Iowa State could be a dangerous team by the time March rolls around.
Postseason Prediction: Two & Out
Big 12 Prediction: 5th