All aboard the hype train! With the recent commitments of Hallice Cooke and Georgios Tsalmpouris, the scholarships for 2014-2015 have been exhausted and the roster is set. Now it’s time to speculate on the potential of the coming year’s team. Let us go through and look at the positions and potential starters for the Cyclones.
Point Guard: This is Monte Morris’ spot without question. He showed great poise handling the ball alongside DeAndre Kane and by now everybody knows about his nation-leading 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio. Highly touted Clayton Custer will assume the roles of backup and occasional backcourt partner, like Morris and Kane previously.
Hallice Cooke will sit out the year per transfer rules, but should provide another healthy dose of 3-pointers in the future.
Feb 22, 2014; Boise, ID, USA; UNLV Rebels guard Bryce Dejean-Jones (13) in the second half of play against the Boise State Broncos at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State beat UNLV 91-90 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Shooting Guard: The Cyclones might have too many shooters, which is the best kind of problem. First there’s the late-game savior Naz Long, then there’s Matt Thomas and his 44 3-pointers, the second-most for an ISU freshman.
However, the starter here will likely be Bryce Dejean-Jones from UNLV. Bryce DJ led the Runnin’ Rebels with 13.6 ppg and should be a natural fit at the two-guard.
Small Forward: I see this is one of the more interesting position battles on the roster. I think Georges Niang will start here initially and will use his huge skillset to terrorize opposing defenses. Abdel Nader will play here a lot too once his suspension from a DUI suffered during VEISHA week resolves. The Niang-Nader dynamic is one I would want to watch closely.
Power Forward: After sliding over from the 5, this is Dustin Hogue all the way. His nonstop motor nearly propelled ISU past Connecticut in the Sweet 16 and finished second in Big 12 rebounding. He even showed the occasional 3-point stroke that means defenders won’t be able to sag off too much.
Daniel Edozie could play here as well, mimicking his late-season role for the Cyclones. Finally, Darien Williams will provide scoring and rebounding after a season of recovery from surgery on both shoulders.
Center: Finally we have legitimate big men! This is the spot that probably has Cyclone fans most excited. Jameel McKay is the big name here with his shot blocking prowess (for reference, his wingspan is only two total inches shorter than Anthony Davis), but won’t be eligible until December.
In the meantime we’ll be treated to the sight of the new recruit, Georgios Tsalmpouris, from Greece. He’s probably raw and needs to put on weight, but at 7-1 he gives the team size it hasn’t seen in quite some time. His numbers from his Under-17 team are eye-popping at 27 ppg, 17 rpg, 10 bpg, and 3 apg. While he won’t average that against American competition, there’s reason to be excited about four years of development with Fred and the coaching staff.
Whew, that’s a lot to take in, but that is the roster as of right now. Keep in mind that many of these players can play multiple positions. There will be some fun position battles as eligibility resolves, but Fred has shown a masterful touch with floor spacing and playing time. Feel free to weigh in with your comments.