ISU's Palo, summer MVP, poised for winter progress
Yes, it’s a high-scoring, low-defense summer league with closer 3-point arcs.
Yes, reinvigorated Iowa State guard Bubu Palo won’t average a triple-double in a suddenly loaded Cyclone backcourt in 2013-14 — like he did while earning YMCA Capital City League MVP honors early this week.
But, no, the Ames native’s amped up offense doesn’t fall under the umbrella-term “fluke.”
Just ask Royce White — who barnstormed one game through the league before preparing to join his new NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Anybody who doubts Bubu’s game at this point, you’re kidding yourself,” White said of his former teammate who averaged 30 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists this summer. “The kid is elusive. He’s crafty, he’s very shifty and he’s obviously jet quick. And since he’s been here he’s had to play behind some really good point guards and I think that’s hurt him. Hopefully people will get a chance to see just how dangerous he is this year, with him probably taking a leadership role.”
Palo, who gained acclaim as a defensive specialist as he journeyed from walk-on to scholarship athlete, will have company in the guard court.
There’s newcomer DeAndre Kane, who transferred and graduated from Marshall, thus can play right away.
There’s sharpshooting freshman Matt Thomas, another long-distance hot shot in JUCO transfer K.J. Bluford, as well as Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, Monte Morris, and Sherron Dorsey-Walker — who put up a record 67 points in a Cap City League game last month.
“These young guys are picking things up really quickly,” Palo said. “With that, it’s going to help that our non-con (schedule) is a little bit tougher this year. So they’re going to be exposed to tough competitors early, which will really help us in Big 12 play.”
Palo will, too, but with an enhanced offensive arsenal that could lead to more court time.
“Coach told me he wanted me to be more aggressive, so I’ve definitely been working on my shot and just trying to improve my game,” Palo said.
One area he’s always shined: Getting to the foul line.
So much so, that soon-to-be-sophomore star Georges Niang called him out, tongue-in-cheek, from the bleachers.
“‘Bubu, why you floppin,’ man?’” Niang joked.
Palo’s response?“Of course, everyone heckles me,” he said with a smile. “That’s one of my things. I have a nice little ability to get to the free throw line. If it was the NBA, I’d probably be out some money, but luckily we’re in college, so it’s all good.”