Throughout much of the offseason, I was excited for the upcoming season Iowa State men’s basketball player Bubu Palo would have. The current basketball season would finally be a full season for him, and a chance for his role to increase after Korie Lucious, Chris Babb, Will Clyburn, and Tyrus McGee all graduated.
In the 2011-2012 season, Palo fractured his wrist and missed 13 games. Last season, an ongoing sexual assault trial kept him off the court until late January. Then Iowa State dismissed him from the team after the university president, Steven Leath, found him in violation of the student code of conduct after being found innocent last January.
Now that Palo is reinstated, part of the question becomes whether he will actually be a contributor. Athletic director Jamie Pollard’s comments aside, Palo may not add a lot to the current team. Head coach Fred Hoiberg has used a seven man rotation throughout many of the games this season, with Daniel Edozie and Sherron Dorsey-Walker playing no more than a couple minutes a contest.
In the past Palo has added little offensively, only contributing 2.8 points per game last fall while playing a mere 12.5 minutes per contest. His ability to play point guard is more than likely not needed, as DeAndre Kane has been a legitimate All-American candidate while Monte Morris has had a very impressive freshman campaign, averaging three assists per game while only averaging 0.6 turnovers per game.
While Palo’s stats may not show it, he frankly would add a lot to this team. He plays good defense, he hustles, and he is calm on offense. In the past Palo has found himself on the court at the end of big games. Last year he was guarding Aaron Craft on the last possession against Ohio State in the NCAA tournament round of 32. He was in the game in last year’s comeback against Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament while Korie Lucious sat on the bench.
Hoiberg has not just played Palo over the last couple seasons; he’s often played him at big moments during big games. If Hoiberg chooses not to give Palo significant minutes, it will be a decision that is purely political. If Palo is given significant minutes, it’s my belief Iowa State will be a better team.