AMES — Iowa State point guard Nick Weiler-Babb is a calming presence on the floor.
The fifth-year senior is a steady hand who seems to always make the right play.
Weiler-Babb’s impact is felt at Hilton Colisuem, but when No. 20 Iowa State (17-5, 6-3 Big 12) goes on the road, like it does at 8 p.m. Monday (ESPN2) at Oklahoma (15-7, 3-6), his calming presence becomes magnified.
Weiler-Babb is cerebral enough to tune out the noise from opposing fans and make the right play.
“He’s our point guard,” Iowa State wing Marial Shayok said. “He keeps everybody together and keeps everybody’s head straight. When I was struggling (Saturday against Texas), he got me back in check and made me focus on the game and not the past. He does everything and is extremely huge for our team.”
Weiler-Babb puts up steady, not gaudy numbers. He averages 9.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Defensively, he’s able to get into passing lanes and get steals — he had three in each of the last two games and averages nearly 1.5 stals per game.
The Arlington, Texas native, transferred to Iowa State from Arkansas after his freshman season. He was part of the Georges Niang, Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long-led teams that won Big 12 titles. His brother, Chris Babb, also played for Iowa State.
Weiler-Babb feels pride for playing for the Cyclones.
“He’s been here the longest and I think he feels an obligation to the past probably more so than any of these other guys because he was around those guys who won so many games,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “There’s an, ‘I can’t let the past down’ mindset he has with the Nazs, the Georgeses, the Montes – there’s a bunch of them.”
That’s the No. 1 thing Prohm see’s from Weiler-Babb. The No. 2 thing is Weiler-Babb’s basketball IQ.
“His basketball IQ is as good as I’ve been around, and I’ve been around some good ones here with Monte and Georges — those are elite IQ guys,” Prohm said. “Nick can defend 1-through-5 if we need him to. He can come over to me in the last 20 seconds and say, ‘Hey, let’s do this in press offense. I think this is better for us in this situation.’ You need that. It’s awesome to see him having success on a really good team because he’s really made a lot of strides since last year.”
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Weiler-Babb’s career hasn’t always been smooth. Two years ago, he was a role player that averaged just four points per game. Last season, he struggled through injury the whole year while handling a much larger role on offense.
But this season, Weiler-Babb is able to play his game as a distributor and decision maker.
“This year, to see him respond is really good,” Prohm said. “He’s even keeled. He’s not a peak-and-valley guy. He just goes about his business.
“He has a bright future playing this game.”
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