Iowa State Cyclones

Foreign trip gives young Iowa State men's basketball team opportunity for competition, bonding

Cyclones leave for Italy on Saturday

Iowa State Cyclones men's basketball coach Steve Prohm. (The Gazette)
Iowa State Cyclones men's basketball coach Steve Prohm. (The Gazette)

AMES — Iowa State men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm likes the international trips teams are able to go on.

He gets to see how the newcomers play in a competitive setting that’s not practice and the trip is ideal for team bonding.

Both are important for the 2019-20 Cyclones, who lost six players from last year’s team and welcomed four incoming freshmen and two transfers.

ISU leaves for Italy on Saturday to play three games in 10 days and tour country. The Cyclones play the Netherlands National B Team on Aug. 13 in Rome, the Sienna All Stars on Aug. 15 in Sienna and the Ivory Coast National Team on Aug. 17 in Vicenza.

“I really just want to get the family feel going and become a family,” freshman Tre Jackson said. “I want to get that chemistry going and really start to figure out where I fit on the team.”

Jackson, a point guard by trade, is one of the guys who has already made a positive impression on Prohm.

“He’s done a really good job — he can defend the ball, he competes, he’s tough and he can really make shots,” Prohm said. “But he needs to slow down, and he needs to take care of the ball better. I like to play him at the 2 as well, so he doesn’t always have to be the constant decision-maker.”

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Jackson is taking the lead from fellow point guard Prentiss Nixon, who sat out last season after transferring from Colorado State. Nixon is expected to be the Cyclones’ starting point guard and seems to be the ideal mentor to Jackson because their styles are so similar.

“Prentiss Nixon helps a lot,” Jackson said. “He’s a dog on defense. He’s really getting my defense together, too. We compete against each other every practice. I get into him and he gets into me. He’s a big influence on my basketball career right now.”

Jackson wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school — his other offers were Buffalo, Costal Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast and Georgia Southern — but Prohm believes he could be a breakout player like Tyrese Haliburton was last year.

Prohm has a pedigree of identifying point guard talent and developing it, even back to his Murray State days with Isaiah Caanen and Cam Payne, who both play in the NBA. At Iowa State, he helped developed Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long and Lindell Wigginton, who are all currently point guards in the NBA.

“The thing I liked about Tre Jackson at the end of last summer was his teams always won and he was a competitive, competitive kid and he could really make shots,” Prohm said. “He’s stepped in here and has done a really good job. Now, he does turn the ball over and he goes too fast and that’s part of it. But he wants to learn, and he wants to get better.

“If we got caught up in who was recruiting Tyrese, we would’ve never went after him. But when you watch guys, you have a feel — especially on the perimeter.”

Haliburton has spent the summer playing in competitive environments. He played on the gold-medal winning FIBA U19 USA Basketball team where he earned a spot on the All-Star Five team. Now, Haliburton is at the Nike Skills Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Because of Haliburton’s busy summer, Prohm will probably elect to rest him for one of the games.

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“If there’s a game I can rest him and have him help coach, I’ll do that,” Prohm said.

While Jackson is picking Nixon’s brain, Prohm also wants Jackson to take a bit from Haliburton, who also came to Iowa State as a point guard but played mostly off the ball last season.

“Tre, it’s like Tyrese — he’s the best example,” Prohm said. “Tyrese never played point guard last year. We never ran a play for him. He only brought the ball up the floor in a pressing situation or when he rebounded the ball.

“He almost averaged five assists to just one turnover. He had the fourth best assist to turnover ratio in the school’s history — and if Monte hadn’t have played here, Tyrese would have the best.

“It’s more about slowing down and making decisions when the ball’s in your hands. ... Tre is playing some 1 and we’re putting him at the 2 a lot. I just want things to be simple for Tre. He’s going to be good. He’s going to be a really good player for us here.”

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