Iowa State Cyclones

Rasir Bolton needs 'to take the next step' for Iowa State men's basketball

He'll be counted on to step up with Tyrese Haliburton off to NBA

Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton drives up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Southern
Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton drives up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Southern Mississippi, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

AMES — Rasir Bolton was a productive basketball player for Iowa State last season.

He averaged 14.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists. But coach Steve Prohm needs more from the junior.

More in the leadership department with the departure of Tyrese Haliburton, more on the defensive side of the ball and more as a true point guard.

“He has to jump into a leadership role,” Prohm said. “You jump into a leadership role by being an everyday guy. The guys who have been great leaders here and the guys that have really impacted this program were everyday guys. They were guys that did it right in the classroom, guys that did it right off the floor, guys that were in the gym constantly, guys that were watching film constantly and then guys that were engaging.”

Bolton has examples to draw inspiration from. Haliburton as a sophomore last season was exactly what Prohm looks for.

Prohm said Bolton has been in his office a lot since they’ve been able to return to watch tape and try to be that “everyday guy.” That might be more important than ever this year with seven new faces entering the mix.

“It definitely feels good to have that trust from your coach and having him believing in you,” Bolton said. “Our relationship is growing day-by-day. As far as a leadership role, I’m just trying to help out the young guys and new guys, too.

“I’m just showing them that I’m not perfect, but you have to fight and be consistent everyday no matter what. If you have a bad day at practice, you have to get into the gym the next day and watch film with Coach so you can continue to learn. The biggest thing is staying consistent and even though I’m not perfect, I’m always there fighting.”

Defensively, the Cyclones will miss Haliburton, who had 54 steals in 22 games.

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Bolton had just 32 steals in 30 games and Prohm said he needs to take a step forward on the defensive end of the floor.

“The biggest challenge of taking the next step is, is he going to be dominant defensively?” Prohm said. “Can he be dominant defensively and take on the other team’s best guard? If we’re playing Baylor, can he say, ‘Hey coach, I want Jared Butler or MaCio Teague.’ He has to want that. He has to be excited for that and it has to drive him. He has to challenge himself on the defensive side of the floor.”

It’s unfair to ask Bolton to be Haliburton, who will likely be a lottery pick in Wednesday’s NBA Draft. But Bolton can use Haliburton as an example.

One of the most impressive parts of Haliburton’s game was his distribution. Haliburton averaged 6.5 assists last season and his assist-to-turnover ratio was 2.3 to 1.

“It’ll definitely help a lot just having experience with playing point guard and learning from Tyrese last year and taking notes from him,” Bolton said.

Bolton had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.75 to 1. If Bolton is going to be the point guard, he needs to improve that number.

“If you’re going to be an elite point guard, and we’ve been blessed to have several of them over the years, you have to put yourself in position to be a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio guy,” Prohm said. “That comes from making great decisions, playing off two feet and making sure you find the right guy.

“I think he’s made strides but now it’s go time and now we’re full-go and he has to take the next step.”

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