AMES — Iowa State’s men’s basketball team lost six players from last season’s Big 12 tournament championship team.
Three had a score-first mentality and have a shot to play in the NBA. Senior Marial Shayok, sophomore Lindell Wigginton and freshman Talen Horton-Tucker were the three leading scorers and combined for 44 points per game — over half the team’s scoring output. The Cyclones averaged 76.9 points last season.
Iowa State has proven pieces in Tyrese Haliburton, Michael Jacobson, George Conditt and Solomon Young — if he’s healthy. Steve Prohm is also high on Parentiss Nixon, who sat out last season after transferring from Colorado State.
But none of them have the scoring instinct of Shayok, Wigginton or Horton-Tucker.
“That has to develop,” Prohm said during Iowa State’s Tailgate Tour stop in Cedar Rapids this summer. “Tyrese can make plays, Parentiss Nixon — our frontcourt has some experience. Figuring out who the primary scorer is will take a little bit of time — hopefully in recruiting, there will be a couple guys that come in through that as well.
“I like our core guys that are back. Then you have Terrence Lewis and Zion Griffin who need to take a big jump this summer. Hopefully one of those guys will be a surprise and a wild card guy for us.”
Nixon is a 6-foot-2, defensive-minded guard who led Colorado State in scoring with 16.1 points per game before he transferred. But he hasn’t proven he can score at the Power Five level yet.
“He’s an elite defender,” Prohm said. “He played for Larry Eustachy at Colorado State so he can really guard the ball and he brings a lot of toughness on the defensive end. He’s a lockdown perimeter defender that can make open shots, play a couple guard positions and hopefully be a double-figure scorer for us.”
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Prohm might have to rely on his post players to shoulder some of the scoring load — something Iowa State hasn’t done since Georges Niang graduated.
Michael Jacobson brings a certain level of toughness to Iowa State, scoring in the post and around the rim, and he’s proven he can hit midrange shots. He averaged 11.1 points per game for the Cyclones and established himself as a leader.
“We just established a leadership group that’ll meet with me in the summer and that will really set the tone for what we want to do this year,” Prohm said. “He’ll be one of those guys. He has great work ethic, he has great character, he was a part of success last year and now we have to try and take another step.”
One player Prohm is really high on is the 6-10 George Conditt.
“I thought he had a great freshman year and I probably should’ve played him more, honestly,” Prohm said. “He has great length and great size with good touch around the basket.”
Conditt showed flashes of what he can do throughout the season. In his first game of the season, he recorded four blocks — his season-high was five. Against Texas and projected NBA Draft first-round pick Jaxson Hayes, Conditt recorded 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting, four rebounds and a block in 16 minutes.
The drawback with Conditt was he only weighed 216 pounds. He said last season that he wanted to add another 20 pounds this offseason to better handle the strength of other Big 12 post players.
“He’s home in Chicago right now, so he’s probably downing some deep-dish pizza — that’ll probably help (put on weight),” Prohm said with a laugh. “When he gets back we’ll get back in the weight room and get back on the court and hopefully he can put on those good pounds that we need, and he can continue to develop his body.
“I love the way he runs and I love his activity level — he plays really, really hard. And he plays for the right reasons. He loves Iowa State and I think he has a chance to take a big step. This is a big summer for him and he knows that. He has a chance to really take off.”
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Iowa State also added Penn State transfer Rasir Bolton. Bolton, who will be a sophomore, averaged 11.6 points last season while shooting 36.1 percent from 3-point range. Bolton is applying for a waiver to become immediately eligible for the Cyclones. If he’s granted the waiver, he could be the score-first guard Prohm wants.
“We are really excited to add Rasir to our program,” Prohm said. “He had a tremendous freshman year at Penn State and we are looking forward to seeing him continue to grow here at Iowa State. Rasir has a chance to be a terrific player for our program. We can’t wait to get him on campus and get to work this summer.”
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