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WEST DES MOINES — Solomon Young walked onto campus at Iowa State already looking like he could see some minutes in Big 12 play.
The size of the freshman forward and the possibilities in front of him astounded Iowa State senior point guard Monte Morris.
“It’s crazy he was in high school not too long ago,” Morris said of Young. “Who was boxing that kid out, right? He bangs with Deonte (Burton) in practice and sometimes Deonte gets the best of him, but Solomon is going to go hard. He’s just trying to win.”
Young is listed on the ISU roster as 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, but the Sacramento, Calif., native already has added to that mass. He said last week his weight was up to around 244 pounds and could fluctuate even more depending on what coaches ask of him this fall.
Iowa State must replace the nearly 45 points and 20 rebounds left by Georges Niang, Jameel McKay and Abdel Nader and will look at newcomers. The Cyclones added graduate transfers Darrell Bowie (Northern Illinois) and Merrill Holden (Louisiana Tech), but Young hopes to be in that mix and contribute.
Young averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks as a senior last season. Offensive consistency has been a constant thought and defense isn’t far behind.
“Right now I’m just learning how to use my strength,” Young said. “I’m not long enough on defense and learn how to get by defenders efficiently. I’m really just learning how to use my strength to my advantage.”
While Young has been thrown into the mix with new frontcourt players, fellow freshman Jakolby Long has the luxury of learning from an experienced backcourt.
The 6-5, 207-pound guard has Morris, Matt Thomas and Naz Mitrou-Long in his ear with guidance. He averaged 24.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists as a senior in Mustang, Okla., and has used the summer months to adjust to the differences in the college game.
“I’ve been working on everything because I really don’t know what to expect since it’s my first year here,” Long said. “So I’ve been working on every little thing and also just staying healthy and conditioned so my conditioning won’t be a factor when I play. I’ll just play hard and play my best.”
Minutes in the backcourt will be at a premium with the mix of veterans, plus Burton and newcomers Donovan Jackson and last year’s sit-out transfer Nick Weiler-Babb.
Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm has said in the past he doesn’t tend to play more than seven or eight players, but Long hasn’t focused on the competition for minutes. He’s turned his attention to putting in work and waiting for a chance.
“I think I’ll fit in pretty well,” Long said. “I’ll just have to wait my turn and wait for my name to be called to produce. I’ll really just try to help the team win.”
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