Fred Hoiberg could have his most talented, deepest team yet in his Iowa State coaching tenure.
It’s going to be a brand-new look for Iowa State after moving on from two of the most famous Cyclones from a year ago, three-point specialist Scott Christopherson and NBA draftee Royce White. For Fred Hoiberg, it’s simply a matter of reloading by finally having a true point guard since Diante Garrett and hoping a couple of transfers can lead the team early on.
Who’s gone: Scott Christopherson, Chris Allen, Royce White, Jordan Railey, Tavon Sledge
Who’s new: Korie Lucious, Will Clyburn, Tyler Ellerman, Aaron Law, Nkereuwem Okoro, Georges Niang, Naz Long, Sherron Dorsey-Walker, Cameron Fowler
What happened last year: The Cyclones finished at 23-11 overall with a 12-6 mark in the Big 12 conference. Only losing twice at home all year long, the team was rewarded with an invite to the NCAA Tournament when they eventually lost to the 2011-12 national champion Kentucky Wildcats.
This year’s starting lineup will be lead by redshirt senior guards Lucious and Clyburn, transfers from Michigan State and Utah, respectively. After sitting out last season, the duo is poised and confident that they can get Iowa State to a second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Korie Lucious made 5-8 three pointers against Minnesota State to finish his night with 15 points and five assists in 20 minutes. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
In Lucious’ last season with the Spartans, he averaged 6.5 points and 4.1 assists in 18 games. He finished second on the team in assists during the 2010-11 season. He showed his best against Duke with 20 points and 11 assists. As a true point guard, Lucious made nearly 80 assists per season in his three years with Michigan State. He’s also a big threat from the perimeter with 96 three-pointers made in his career.
Clyburn gives the Cyclones another weapon from downtown. In his one season with the Utes, he led the team in three-pointers and three-point field goal percentage. He made the All-Mountain West second-team leading his team in scoring with nearly 20 points a game and rebounds with about nine boards a game.
Joining them in the starting lineup should be Melvin Ejim, Anthony Booker, and Tyrus McGee. All three players return after having strong seasons with Iowa State a season ago. Ejim is the go-to player in the post receiving an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention a year ago, McGee was the Cyclones’ sixth man of the year last season, and Booker was the second-best shot blocker on the team last year with 18 blocked shots.
There’s a lot of depth in a big recruiting class for 2012. Along with sophomore Percy Gibson coming off the bench, freshman that should see some valuable time are Georges Niang, Naz Long, and Aaron Law. Niang and Long had impressive outings in the exhibition game against Minnesota State last Sunday, combining for 26 points on 10-14 shooting, while Law only saw two minutes of action and missed his only shot attempt.
Thanks to a pretty soft non-conference schedule, there’s enough time for all the new players to gel and find their rhythm before the Big 12 season begins. With a real point guard on offense and more depth from a season ago, anticipation should be just as high from a season ago despite a coaches’ preseason poll that picked Iowa State to finish eighth in the conference. Take a look at the full schedule for Iowa State here.
Kickoff for the 2012-13 season begins this Friday night when the Cyclones host Southern at 7:00 p.m. CT inside Hilton Coliseum.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Clones Confidential. Keep up with the latest sports fails and disdain toward the Big Ten by following him on Twitter.