Iowa State set to begin rebuilding season at Missouri
AMES, Iowa (AP) — The future is bright for Iowa State. It just might not seem that way in the weeks to come.
The Cyclones, who open the season on Friday at Missouri, celebrated the signing of a four-man recruiting class on Wednesday that is considered to be in the top 20 nationally by many publications. The class is yet another sign that third-year coach Steve Prohm is committed to building a foundation based on prep players after years of reaching the NCAA Tournament with Division I transfers.
But with all rebuilds come growing pains, and Iowa State — which lost four starters from last year’s Big 12 Tournament-winning squad — looks as though it might go through quite a few of them after struggling to get past Emporia State 77-68 in an exhibition game last week.
“There are good days and bad days. My biggest thing right now is just trying to figure out the best way to give these guys confidence and put them in position to be successful and have fun and not worry about the pressure and the expectations of everything that comes with this,” Prohm said. “It’s going to be a growth process of getting better each day. That’s just how teams are built.”
Prohm said Wednesday that freshman Terrence Lewis will play against the Tigers but that fellow freshman Cameron Lard won’t make the trip. Both were held out of the win over Emporia State for what are believed to be disciplinary reasons. Prohm also said that senior transfer Hans Brase, who is recovering from a knee injury, will miss the first two games.
Guards Nick Weiler-Babb, Donovan Jackson and Lindell Wigginton and forwards Jeff Beverly and Solomon Young will likely start against the Tigers. Old Dominion transfer Zoran Talley and Lewis will be the first ones off the bench, and sophomore Jakolby Long should get his opportunity to show Prohm that he deserves more playing time in 2017-18
And while Missouri will debut highly-rated freshman Michael Porter Jr., the Cyclones have a big-time newcomer of their own to roll out in Wigginton, one of the top recruits in school history. Wigginton had 18 points and four steals in Iowa State’s exhibition game.
“The biggest thing I want to see out of him is — and I talked about this with him on (Tuesday) is, if you make a mistake, either a turnovers or a missed shot, are you making up for it on the other end?” Prohm said.
The plan moving forward for the Cyclones will be to pair Wigginton, Lewis and Lard with Zion Griffin, a 6-6 four-star recruit who turned down Kansas, Tyrese Haliburton, a 6-foot-5 point guard, the 6-foot-10 George Conditt IV and Talen Horton-Tucker, a four-star shooting guard who committed late last month.
Iowa State’s unimpressive exhibition performance might be an indication that it will take some time for this year’s team to gel.
“We couldn’t get a rhythm going. We couldn’t make shots. Defensively, we were terrible,” Prohm said. “That’s what we have to be good at.”