Iowa State secured its first commitment Wednesday of what will be a pivotal class of forwards in 2017.
KeyShawn Faezell of Mississippi committed to Steve Prohm and the Cyclones, he announced Wednesday.
“After praying to God to lead me in the right path and talking with my dad,” Faezell wrote, “I’ve decided to further my education and basketball career under coach Prohm at Iowa State University.”
Faezell, a 6-foot-9 consensus top-150 forward in the 2017 class, joins wing Terrence Lewis as the first two members of a class that figures to number at least six for ISU. The addition of Faezell is key because ISU will be losing three members of its frontcourt it will likely be leaning on heavily in 2015-16 in Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. A 2016 big man, Cameron Lard, has also yet to enroll in classes this fall due to academic issues, making Faezell’s commitment even more important should Lard be unable to get clearance.
“They need some people to come in and compete,” Feazell told the Ames Tribune. “I think I fit in the program.”
Prohm’s teams dating back to his Murray State days have always been guard-oriented and guard-heavy, but beginning to stack the roster with quality big men will be key as he looks to continue the Cyclones’ success in the Big 12, which includes a school-record five-straight NCAA tournament appearances.
Iowa State has the first piece of what is likely to be a large and critical recruiting class for coach Steve Prohm.
The Cyclones received the commitment of Terrence Lewis, a top-100 wing from Wisconsin, on Tuesday evening.
“We feel great about the decision,” Terrence’s father and high school coach, Rock Lewis, told the Ames Tribune, “and all that Iowa State brings to the table for the next four years.”
Lewis averaged 22.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last year for Milwaukee Riverside.
“Terrence Lewis gives Iowa State an athletic wing who can defend multiple positions while he also has upside on the offensive end,” NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scot Phillips said. “If Lewis can improve his skill level, he’s athletic enough to be a rotation player for the Cyclones early in his career.”
His commitment gives Prohm and ISU a foundation for a recruiting class that has six current open scholarships. The Cyclones very well could lose its entire starting lineup after the 2016-17 season with long-time contributors Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas graduating along with other likely starter Deonte Burton and graduate transfers Darrell Bowie and Merrill Holden.
Prohm took an experienced and talented Cyclones team that was constructed by now-Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to the Sweet 16 last season and will still have significant holdovers for a team that hopes to compete atop the Big 12 this season. After that, though, the roster will cycle through the Hoiberg-era players and nabbing players of Lewis’ quality will be of great import as ISU looks to extend the most successful run in school history it’s currently enjoying.
Looking Forward: Which programs are set to step backwards as we head into 2016-17?
The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close for all of the major programs.
In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2016-17 season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some programs on the decline heading into next season.
Wichita State: It’s hard to see the Shockers take too much of a tumble given how good a coach Gregg Marshall is and their superiority to the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference, but the graduations of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker mean the end of an era. Those two were the constants of a Final Four team, then a 35-0 squad, followed by a Sweet 16 and finishing last March in the second round. There’s still talent in Wichita and they are still going to be the heavyweights of the Valley, but the dominance and national prestige that came with VanVleet and Baker may have also left with them.
UNLV: Things haven’t exactly been at a highwater mark in Las Vegas in awhile, but the Running Rebels appear to continue to sink. First, they fired coach Dave Rice in the middle of the season, which is never received well in coaching circles, exactly the place you need to go to, you know, hire another coach. The Rick Pitino pipedream never materialized, and then Mick Cronin couldn’t pull the trigger despite giving life in the desert a serious look. That left UNLV with Little Rock’s first-year coach Chris Beard, until an ugly debate regent debate to approve his contract preempted an exit to Texas Tech just a week after taking the job. New head coach Marvin Menzies was hired with just two scholarship players left in the program. All of that messiness is a terrible sign for the current health of a once-mighty program.
Iowa State: The news for the Cyclones this spring has been almost universally positive, starting with point guard Monte’ Morris deciding to not even test the NBA draft process and return for a senior season in which he’ll be the Cyclones’ focal point. ISU also will be getting Naz Mitrou-Long back after the sharpshooter was granted a medical hardship waiver. But the reality remains that the Cyclones lost one of the best players in program history in Georges Niang and have been enjoying the most successful run in program history. Some sort of slide is likely — and has been expected — as a result. But coach Steve Prohm and ISU may have enough talent to return to the NCAA tournament for a school-record sixth time and forestall any setback.
North Carolina State: It really looked like Mark Gottfried was going to get things rolling in a big way following the 2014-15 season in which the Wolfpack went 22-14, had a good core returning and recruiting booming. But Trevor Lacey turned pro (only to go undrafted), Kyle Washington transferred and NC State stumbled to a 16-17 record last season. Now, Cat Barber is leaving to go pro and Abdul-Malik Abu may do the same or follow the Martin twins into the transfer, and suddenly the forecast in Raleigh isn’t so sunny even with Dennis Smith Jr. in the fold.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers traded a coach who won two Big East titles, went to the Sweet 16 twice, the Elite Eight once and only missed the NCAA tournament twice in 13 years for a guy that Vanderbilt was pushing out the door. Not great. Even if things had gotten stale for Pitt fans with Jamie Dixon, the results he achieved are hard to argue. Few believe that Kevin Stallings is the answer to jumpstart the program back to where Dixon had it during the first years of his tenure, especially as the ACC continues to be a monster to navigate.
Kansas State: The Bruce Weber era in Manhattan started out with a bang, as he tied for a Big 12 title in his first year taking over for Frank Martin, but it’s been backsliding since, capped with a 17-16 (5-13 Big 12) campaign this past season. He couldn’t make it work with the most talented player (Marcus Foster) he’s had there, and there hasn’t exactly been a line of high-level recruits making their way to Manhattan. And if that wasn’t bad enough, KSU fans had to watch Oklahoma State hire former Wildcat assistant Brad Underwood while their administration gave Weber a stay of execution.
Ohio State: This is probably the trickiest inclusion, as Thad Matta’s track record would suggest that last year’s NIT appearance was merely a slip on the path to a return to the top of the Big Ten. The trouble, though, is that seeing four members of a heralded five-man 2015 recruiting class all decide to transfer is a major red flag. The Buckeyes do welcome another strong class to Columbus this fall, headlined by Derek Funderburk, but there are some visible cracks in the facade.
Incoming ISU recruit testing NBA waters as “Plan B”
It’s been a long, circuitous route for Malou, who was born in Ethiopia before emigrating to Australia as a toddler. He’s bounced between Australia and the United State multiple times attending prep schools and community colleges. In addition to academic issues given all his movement, Malou also faces a potential problem with the NCAA given his eligibility clock. ISU is asking the NCAA to grant him an extension.
Malou was one of the most sought after junior college players in the country, and his Yuba College gym hosted a number of NBA scouts during his time there. The Cyclones have been counting on him to be a significant contributor for next season.
Whether or not Malou makes it to ISU this fall could have a profound impact on the Cyclones in their second year under Steve Prohm. Their backcourt returns intact with Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas, but the loss of All-American Georges Niang and frontcourt mates Jameel McKay and Abdel Nader has left ISU thin up front. Not having Malou available would make them even shallower in a position that the Cyclones are actively already trying to add to with a graduate transfer.
Not the deepest team by any stretch of the imagination, Steve Prohm’s Iowa State Cyclones took a personnel hit Tuesday afternoon as it was announced that senior guard Naz Mitrou-Long would miss the remainder of the season. Mitrou-Long, a starter for the Cyclones, underwent arthroscopic procedures on both hips this summer and the recovery process has been slow enough to require that he sit out.
Mitrou-Long didn’t play in Iowa State’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff Sunday in hopes that some extra rest would prove beneficial, but the issues remain the same.
“Naz came to me recently and explained his desire to sit out the remainder of this season and seek a medical hardship,” Prohm said in the release. “We support his decision as he works to get back to where he was physically prior to the injury. Naz is a terrific person and an important part of our team both on and off the court. I’m confident his teammates will come together and respond to this in a positive manner.”
Mitrou-Long averaged 12.0 points per game in eight appearances this season, all starts. With him no longer in the rotation Iowa State will need more from guards Matt Thomas and Hallice Cooke moving forward. Thomas, who’s averaging 8.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in 26 minutes of action per game, has played well of late. In the last two games he’s shot 11-for-17 from three, scoring 19 points in the Cyclones’ comeback win over Iowa and following that up with a 17-point performance against UAPB.
Cooke, who began his college career at Oregon State, is currently averaging 5.4 points and 14.9 minutes per game and he went scoreless on Sunday. Iowa State will add forward Deonte Burton (transfer from Marquette) to the mix at the end of the week when they take on Northern Iowa, but to lose Mitrou-Long hurts given the spark he provides the Cyclones in the energy department as well as being a capable perimeter shooter.
AMES, Iowa (AP) Jameel McKay scored 18 points with eight rebounds, and No. 4 Iowa State held off Arkansas-Pine Bluff 78-64 Sunday for its ninth straight win.
Matt Thomas had 17 points in his first start of the season for the Cyclones (9-0). They rested guard Naz Mitrou-Long, who is still working his way back from offseason surgery to repair both hips.
The Golden Lions (2-8) hung around for about 35 minutes against an Iowa State team three days removed from an emotional 83-82 win over rival Iowa. But Monte Morris’ alley-oop to McKay gave the Cyclones a 70-54 lead with just more than 5 minutes left.
Ghiavonni Robinson scored 15 points for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which lost its third straight.
This was Iowa State’s second-to-last game against a low-major opponent. Arkansas-Pine Bluff caused more problems for the Cyclones than most thought it could.
Iowa State was sloppy from the outset, turning the ball over seven times in the first 10 minutes. It didn’t take its first double-digit lead until late in the first half, when a pair of free throws by Abdel Nader put the Cyclones up 33-23.
The Golden Lions played at times as well as they have all season, and some defensive lapses kept Iowa State from making the kind of big run that would’ve put them away earlier. The Cyclones also committed 13 turnovers, but the game was never really in doubt.
Morris, whose floater with 9 seconds left beat the Hawkeyes, had 12 points and 11 assists for his third double-double this season.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions have been beaten by at least 14 points in each of their losses. … Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s first home game isn’t until Jan. 16 against Southern. … Arkansas-Pine Bluff hit just two free throws.
Iowa State: Mitrou-Long started the first eight games, averaging 12 points. Thomas started in place of Long. … Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register missed the game after breaking his leg when fans stormed the court following Thursday’s win over Iowa. Peterson told The Associated Press he hopes to cover Iowa State’s next game, Saturday in Des Moines against Northern Iowa.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff plays at Santa Clara on Tuesday.
Iowa State plays Northern Iowa in Des Moines on Saturday.