#6 Iowa State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Iowa State Cyclones

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #2 Big 12

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Fred Hoiberg led Iowa State to four straight NCAA Tournaments, but his last was a bit disappointing as the Cyclones were upset in their opener against UAB. But now Coach Hoiberg is off to the NBA and Iowa State picked up a great young coach in Steve Prohm. Coach Prohm spent the last four seasons at Murray State, where he compiled a 104-29 overall record. He has failed to take the Racers to the NCAA Tournament the last three seasons, but he will get back to the NCAAs this year thanks to the return of Georges Niang. The 6-8 forward led the Cyclones with 15.3 points and added 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Niang can shoot the ball from long range, score in the paint and find his open teammates. Not many 6-8 forwards can do all of that as well as Niang.

2014-15 Record: 25-9, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Steve Prohm
Coach Record: 0-0 at Iowa State, 104-29 overall

Who’s Out:
Iowa State does lose two starters off last year’s 25-win team. Bryce Dejean-Jones was inconsistent shooting the ball, but the big guard was very effective attacking the basket and helped out on the glass quite a bit too. Dustin Hogue started every game as a junior and senior. The versatile 6-6 forward could stretch out the defense with his shooting ability, yet he would also hit the glass effectively. The Cyclones were a bit disappointing in the rebounding department last season, ranking ninth in the conference in rebound margin, and losing Dejean-Jones and Hogue does not help their rebounding ability from the wing. Daniel Edozie, a strong 6-8 forward, is the only other departure. He averaged fewer than ten minutes per game and saw action in just 16 contests.

Who’s In:
Coach Prohm hopes a handful of transfers can bolster his backcourt. Hallice Cooke spent his freshman season at Oregon State where he averaged 8.2 points and 2.5 assists. He is an interesting combo guard who has a nice stroke from long range.  But Cooke can also spend some time with the ball in his hands as needed, although he needs to get healthy following hip surgery first. Deonte Burton will be eligible after the first semester. The Marquette transfer is an explosive athlete and adds another potential playmaker to the Cyclones backcourt. Junior college transfer Jordan Ashton is a walk-on, but he was one of the best pure shooters in the junior college ranks last season. Another walk-on, Wes Greder, will add even more depth to the backcourt. The frontcourt adds Brady Ernst and Simeon Carter. Those two will need to be ready to provide quality depth as freshmen.

Who to Watch:
After Niang, the star of this team is Monte Morris. As a freshman two years ago he led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio. And he did again last season. Dishing out 5.2 assists per game while committing just 1.1 turnovers is impressive, but being that consistent from one year to the next is amazing. Morris started scoring more last year too, averaging 11.9 points per game and connecting on 39.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Watching Morris’ offense develop under Coach Prohm will be very interesting. Murray State had some of the best scoring point guards in the country under Prohm’s supervision and Morris could add even more scoring to his already impressive point guard skills. Naz Long, now going by Nazareth Mitrou-Long will rejoin Morris in the backcourt. He was the team’s most prolific outside shooter last season and has been extremely consistent from long range. Abdel Nader will likely start on the wing, while Matt Thomas joins the newcomers providing backcourt depth. Nader may not put up big numbers, but he is a scrappy, tough player who makes the rest of the team better.

Final Projection:
Jameel McKay will join Niang to form a great frontcourt. McKay is an efficient interior scorer, averaging 11.0 points per game and making 58.3 percent of his shots, but it is on the other end of the floor where his services are invaluable. He led the team with 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. The potential problem is the depth between McKay and Niang. Outside of the freshman, all the Cyclones have to work with is sophomore Georgios Tsalmpouris, who played in just eight games last season. McKay and Niang can play 30 plus minutes per game, but somebody needs to fill in the rest or Iowa State will have to play smaller with somebody like Nader stepping into the four spot. That is not as ideal as Hogue stepping in there like he did last season. But by the time it really matters in March, the freshmen should be ready to fill the minutes.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Monte Morris, Junior, Guard, 11.9 points per game
Nazareth Mitrou-Long, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Abdel Nader, Senior, Forward, 5.8 points per game
Georges Niang, Senior, Forward, 15.3 points per game
Jameel McKay, Senior, Forward, 11.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.8 (14th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.0 (245, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.6 (22, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (105, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (50, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.2 (83, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.6 (152, 5)
Rebound Margin: 0.7 (162, 9)
Assists Per Game: 16.1 (12, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.0 (44, 1)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#54 Jameel McKay
#61 Georges Niang

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#101 Nick Noskowiak


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