Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State men's basketball 2020-21 look ahead: Guards

Cyclones need a point guard to step up with Tyrese Haliburton off to the NBA

Iowa State Cyclones guard Tre Jackson (3) signals to teammates as he looks to pass in the second half at an Iowa State C
Iowa State Cyclones guard Tre Jackson (3) signals to teammates as he looks to pass in the second half at an Iowa State Cyclones men’s basketball game with Kansas Jayhawks at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Kansas won the game, 79-53. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

AMES — The Iowa State men’s basketball team wasn’t having a particularly good season before projected NBA lottery pick Tyrese Haliburton broke his wrist.

It didn’t get any better after that injury.

The Cyclones finished just 12-20 overall, 5-13 in the Big 12 Conference.

Now, Iowa State will have to figure out how to manage life without Haliburton all season.

Coach Steve Prohm tried different pieces at point guard after Haliburton’s injury and no one was able to have sustained success.

Rasir Bolton and Tre Jackson had assist-to-turnover ratios of about 1.0 over the course of the entire 2019-20 season. When they shared point guard duties in the last part of the season, the ratio didn’t improve for either one. They were both, again, 1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio players.

Prohm desperately needs point guard help and he may have found it in Memphis transfer Tyler Harris, who strongly considered Iowa State when he was coming out of high school.

As a sophomore last season, the 5-foot-9 Harris averaged 8.7 points with over half of his shot attempts coming from 3-point range, where he shot 36 percent.

The biggest issue with Harris is he isn’t exactly a bank vault. He, like Bolton and Jackson, has a tendency to turn the ball over. He had more turnovers (45) than assists (26) last season.

Harris is applying to be immediately eligible, like Bolton did last season. Regardless, he needs to work on his ball security and ball distribution. On the current roster, Prohm has three players 6-3 or smaller and none have proved to be true, ball-distributing point guards.

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Prohm does have 6-5 Jaden Walker coming in as a recruit, who the ISU coach believes can play point guard.

“Jaden is a really, really skilled guard,” Prohm said. “He kind of reminded me of Haliburton when I first saw him, from the standpoint of he can play multiple positions. He can play the one and he can distribute the ball, can pass and make people better.”

On the bright side of not having a proven point guard — if there is a bright side — Iowa State has plenty of shooting guards.

Bolton, who will be a junior next season, averaged 14.7 points last season and his 3-point shooting improved dramatically once Big 12 play started, shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc.

He also proved to be a creative finisher near the rim who wasn’t afraid to take contact. Bolton shot the most free throws (138; Solomon Young was second with 93).

Bolton said last season, after Haliburton’s injury, that Prohm gave him film of former Cyclone great and current Denver Nugget Monte Morris to watch. Prohm wanted Bolton to see how Morris handled himself and how he was able to control his own team as well as opposing defenses when the ball was in his hands.

Jackson, as a freshman last season, wasn’t relied upon to carry the scoring load, but he did reach double figures three times in Big 12 play. His best game was against TCU when he scored 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. He also added five assists and no turnovers to his impressive stat line.

Iowa State will need more of that from Jackson in 2020-21.

Prohm and his staff still are shopping around in the transfer market so Iowa State’s roster for next season isn’t finalized.

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Right now, the Cyclones have guards, but they might not have point guards. If someone can step up and be a lead guard and even have an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0, it would be a step in the right direction.

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