Mar 20, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Georges Niang (31) shoots during practice before the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State men's basketball: ESPN lists Georges Niang among top forward returnees

ESPN highlights Georges Niang as one of the top power forwards to watch next season in men’s basketball.

Reporter Dana O’Neil talks about how important Niang is, and wonders like all of us what would have happened if he didn’t suffer that season-ending injury against North Carolina Central.

Niang was the big “if” for the Cyclones — if Niang didn’t break his foot, would Iowa State have gone further than the first weekend of the NCAA tournament? Heck, would UConn, which topped ISU in the third round, have won the national championship? Niang was and is that critical to Fred Hoiberg’s offense. He averaged 16.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and — most telling of all as to how Hoiberg uses him — 3.6 assists as a sophomore.

A bit oddly worded. Iowa State did make it past the first weekend and acknowledges that in the next sentence, but we get it.

There’s no question Niang has been one of the most important players on the team. In the midst of most transfers that play one season with the Cyclones, the forward made an early impact in his freshman year and is the consistent glue that keeps this team together.

It’s more than what he does on the court. He fuels the passion for this Cyclone team and is one of the best follows on Twitter of all the players. It’s not hard to see his hand in helping to reel in transfers, welcoming everyone that visits with open arms and tells the community to get involved.

Niang joins Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, Arizona’s Brandon Ashley, Kansas’ Perry Ellis, and Arkansas Bobby Portis. Obviously, the Jayhawks will be loaded in the frontcourt with Ellis and newcomer Cliff Alexander, who also made the “top newcomers to watch” list on ESPN.

Iowa State’s Monte Morris was also listed as a top point guard returnee by ESPN earlier.

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