Welcome to the HCS Big 12 Basketball mailbag. This mailbag is for all you basketball junkies out there who root for a Big 12 school who not only have questions about your team, but other teams in the conference. So, join me, grab a cold brew or your favorite drink and relax as I answer all your Big 12 Basketball questions in my mailbag, which will appear each Friday.
I will pick the best question for each mailbag and label it as my question of the week. The winner gets a free HCS Koozie to keep your beer cold (Unless you like it warm, but that’s just plain wrong). I want to thank each one of you who submitted a question this week, and while my HCS colleague Derek Duke does this with a beer for his football mailbag, I tend to lean toward a Vodka and soda. This will be the fourth mailbag of the Big 12 Conference season. Thank you so much for your support and keep our Mailbag in mind as you think of more Big 12 questions. Cheers!
We have one question and a couple of points. We start with the Iowa State Cyclones.
@Tracks182 asked “RE: Iowa State — Why?”
You have to love the vagueness of this question, but given the state of Iowa State’s season, I think we can read between the lines. The Cyclones are the worst team in the Big 12. I think at some point they’ll win a conference game. But in the mailbag last week, I outlined just how rare it would be for a Big 12 team to go winless in conference play. In fact in the current 10 team, double round-robin era, just one team has gone winless, and that was TCU back in 2013-14.
So as to the question, ‘why?,’ well as always it’s not JUST one thing. But the biggest variable is the sheer number of players lost by the program the last two offseasons. The NBA departures of Talen Horton-Tucker and Tyrese Haliburton were expected. The Cyclones also expected to lose their seniors. But I don’t think they expected the mass exodus of underclass recruits after last season. The Cyclones lost five players to transfer. That was similar to what happened at Kansas State after last season, and what happened at TCU two seasons ago. In all, the Cyclones lost eight players from last year’s team. So not only did head coach Steve Prohm have to hit the transfer market hard for game-ready talent, but he also had to sign a talented recruiting class. I won’t say that his 2020 class was that great, but he did sign 7-foot center and Oskaloosa, Iowa, product Xavier Foster. Unfortunately, Foster is out for the year with a foot injury, but he wasn’t playing that much to begin with.
So the Cyclones have been working in three transfers, a handful of holdovers, and there’s really no one on this team that plays at an elite level. Rasir Bolton is probably the closest. The Cyclones also don’t a significant freshman contributor, either.
Earlier this season I wrote about whether or not Prohm’s job is at risk. I contend, and I still do, that he will find his way back to Ames for at least one more season. It wouldn’t be a good look given the economic climate and folding in the fact that ISU employees have been asked to take pay cuts as a result of the pandemic. But, it’s hard to ignore that Prohm will have three losing seasons out of the last four, once this season is complete, and that the mass exodus of recruits were all his guys. In other words he owns the problem.
To that end, in the event that he does lose his job, I’m putting together a list of roughly 15 candidates that Iowa State may want to consider, should athletic director Jamie Pollard decide to move on. Keep an eye out for that next week.
It was a light week for question, so let’s talk about this tweet, shall we?
I saw this flash on the screen in the latter moments of the Oklahoma State-TCU game on Wednesday night, and it kind of blew my mind. That Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham is THAT good at the end of games is really just another reason why most NBA scouts consider him to be the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. In fact, Cunningham popped up at No. 1 in ESPN.com’s most recent mock draft. If you watched the game, one of those draft analysts was in the building in Fort Worth and offered commentary on Cunningham. At one point Mike Schmitz called Cunningham “One of the most complete prospects I’ve seen in quite some times,” indicating that Cunningham had few holes in his game.
At 6-foot-8, he can play guard and forward, shoot well, drive the basket, defend well and run an offense. He’s the type of player you build around.
There’s no question he’s heading to the NBA after this season. But he has meant a great deal to this Cowboys team. We’ve written a couple of pieces about it. For the players coming back next year, Cunningham has set an example. He’s hasn’t played or practiced like a one-and-done guy. He’s consoled his head coach, Mike Boynton Jr., after tough losses. It’s clear his work ethic and on-court demeanor has rubbed off positively on players like Rondel Walker, Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, Avery Anderson III and the Boone brothers, components of Boynton’s last two recruiting classes. Oklahoma State is a program that is finally turning upward, and the opportunity to bring in Cunningham, even for just one season, has accelerated that process.
Finally, let’s examine this little nugget from the Iowa State-West Virginia game.
Former Kentucky guard Rex Chapman likes to play a game called ‘Block or Charge.’ If you follow him on Twitter, you know what I’m talking about. Chapman basically puts a video of two things colliding into each other and asks the question, ‘Block or Charge.’
But he never asks the question ‘Block or Charge or No-Call?’ Maybe he should start with this video from the Iowa State-West Virginia game.
This was late in a one-possession game and Iowa State’s Rasir Bolton just collided full-bore into West Virginia’s Gabe Osabuohein. Now guess what happened? There was no call.
Now, West Virginia DID end up shooting free throws after this, but it was because West Virginia guard Taz Sherman picked up the ball, drew a foul, went to the free-throw line, and iced the game.
Most of the feedback on the tweet was the same — how was their no call? I have no idea. The only thing I can think of is that because the ball had left Bolton’s hands, the refs decided it was a no-call? But I’ve seen non-ball collisions before and someone was tagged with a foul. I mean, you have to call something in this situation right? Right?
Anyway, that’s Big 12 officiating for you. And, by the way, Solomon Young’s reaction is perfect.
Talk to you next week. If you have a question, hit me up on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.