Iowa State Cyclones to Rely on Experienced Backcourt (Big 12 Preview)

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With their entire starting frontcourt graduating, the Iowa State Cyclones will rely on their experienced backcourt.

Iowa State Cyclones
Last Season: T-5th, 10-8 in Big 12, 21-11 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 3rd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Merrill Holden (Sr)/Solomon Young (Fr)
F: Deonte Burton (Sr)/Darrell Bowie (Sr)/Simeon Carter (So)
SG: Matt Thomas (Sr)/Jakolby Long (Fr)
SG: Naz Mitrou-Long (Sr)/Nick Weiler-Babb (So)
PG: Monte Morris (Sr)/Donovan Jackson (Jr-JUCO)

Gone: PF-Georges Niang, C-Jameel McKay, F-Abdel Nader, PG-Hallice Cooke (transfer-Nevada)

iowa-state

Strengths:
Led by Monte Morris, the Iowa State Cyclones have one of the more experienced starting backcourts not only in the Big 12, but the entire country. Morris has been a vital piece of the Cyclone roster since arriving on campus and is an All-American candidate. He is surrounded by a pair of knock down shooters in Matt Thomas and Naz Mitrou-Long, whose season was cut short a year ago due to injury but was granted a medical hardship and another year of eligibility.

Another transfer joins the fold in former Arkansas wing, Nick Weiler-Babb. Though he saw minimal playing time as a freshman with the Razorbacks, Weiler-Babb should be an important piece off the bench for Iowa State. JUCO transfer Donovan Jackson could earn minutes in a reserve role as well.

Question Marks:
With Georges Niang, Jameel McKay, and Abdel Nader all graduating, Steve Prohm must replace his entire starting frontcourt which was one of the most productive in the country. The Iowa State Cyclones bring in a pair of transfers who need to fill some of the minutes inside in Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. Holden is a grad transfer from Louisiana Tech and averaged 8.1 points and five rebounds in just 24 minutes per game. Bowie sat out last season but scored nearly ten points and grabbed more than five boards per game as a junior at Northern Illinois in 2014-15. He brings more athleticism and versatility to the table while Holden can provide some interior defense.

The lone returning frontcourt player is Deonte Burton. At 6-4, he is an undersized four but brings a ton of physicality and athleticism to the floor. Seldom used sophomore Simeon Carter and freshman Solomon Young could factor into the rotation as well. Iowa State could get a boost mid-year if Cameron Lard becomes eligible. Right now, he is slated to arrive on campus mid-semester.

monte-morris

Player to Watch:
The past couple of years, Morris has taken a backseat to guys like Niang, Melvin Ejim, and DeAndre Kane. The 2016-17 Cyclones are truly his team though. He is the maestro of Iowa State’s high octane offensive attack as he averaged almost seven assists per game last season but should take on more of a scoring role as a senior.

X-Factor:
At 6-4, 250 pounds, Burton is built like a linebacker and is extremely versatile on the offensive end as he can knock down outside shots but explode at the rim as well. He will be forced to play a lot of minutes at power forward this season and could end slide to the five at times.

Looking Ahead to 2017-18:
Next year will be a re-build of sorts for Iowa State since all five projected starters are seniors. Frontcourt help is on the way with Tennessee transfer, Ray Kasongo and top 100 small forward, Terrence Lewis. Point guard Darius McNeil is also verbally committed as Prohm looks to replace Morris.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/24 vs. Indiana State (Advocare Invitational)
11/25 vs. Miami FL/Stanford (Advocare Invitational)
11/24 vs. Gonzaga/Quinnipiac/Florida/Seton Hall (Advocare Invitational)
12/1 vs. Cincinnati
12/8 at Iowa
1/28 at Vanderbilt (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Milwaukee to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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