There’s more to Georges Niang than a basketball jersey and a funny name.
The Iowa State freshman wasn’t the biggest man on the Tilton School’s campus as a senior — that title would go to Nerlens Noel, both in height and athletic standing — but he may have been more important.
You see, Niang was Class President in his final year as a high school student. He initially put his name into the running as a joke, but once he won the position, he took his role seriously. That’s one of the many things that stood out to Cyclone head coach Fred Hoiberg when he was pursuing Niang.
“One hundred percent,” Hoiberg told the Eagle-Tribune. “It just shows he’s a well-rounded person. Then there is all the responsibility with the title. It’s a great experience. He’s such a popular guy. Everything he does and will do, he will be a success.”
While Niang was able to win the hearts of his fellow students, it took a little while longer for him to convince high-major recruiters that he was a guy that could play in a conference like the Big 12. Part of the reason is that he’s not all that tall (he’s listed at 6-foot-7) and he’s not overwhelming gifted athletically. But he’s a smart player. He’s got terrific footwork and post moves, he knows how to pass and how to gain position, he boxes out, he defends. What earned him the scholarship offer from ISU on Hoiberg’s first trip to watch him at an open gym was a bucket he scored over Noel in the post.
According to ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, Niang will remind Cyclone fans of a player they should be quite familiar with: Doug McDermott, an Ames, IA, native.
The comparison runs deeper than simply ability on the court. As a high school senior, McDermott was overshadowed by teammate Harrison Barnes. McDermott averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 boards as a freshman, played for the USA’s U-19 team the following summer and was an all-american by the end of his sophomore season.
I don’t think Hoiberg would mind if that comparison ended up being accurate.
(Photo credit: ISU Athletics)