Here is the Iowa State Cyclones basketball season in review, now that their 2020-21 men’s basketball season is complete.
Record: 2-22 (0-18 in Big 12)
Postseason: The Cyclones did not make any postseason play.
Seniors/lettermen losing: G Jalen Coleman-Lands (14.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 27 assists, 19 steals); F Solomon Young (10.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 15 blocked shots).
Note: NCAA rules allow all players to trigger an extra year of eligibility for the 2021-22 season due to COVID-19. These seniors have the choice to return based on that rule. Coleman-Lands told reporters after the Big 12 Tournament that he’s unsure whether he’ll return for what would be a seventh college season.
Any NBA Bound?: Coleman-Lands and Young don’t feel like NBA players at this point. The pair could try and continue their careers in the G League or overseas.
Any One-and-dones or early entries?: None. In fact, none of the Cyclones should even flirt with leaving early.
Any transfers: G Tyler Harris (7.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 spg) submitted his name to the transfer portal. F Aljaz Kunc from Washington State transferred and signed with Iowa State. He is eligible to play in 2021-22.
Top players expected to return: G Rasir Bolton (15.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.3 spg); F Javan Johnson (9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.7 apg); G Tre Jackson (5.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.25 apg, 1.25 spg); F Xavier Foster (4.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg); F George Conditt IV (2.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg); G Darlinstone Dubar (2.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
The player you don’t know about: G Blake Hinson was a transfer that the Cyclones hoped would be ready for the 2020-21 season, but a medical condition sidelined him before the season even began. Hinson played two seasons at Ole Miss, where in his second season he averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. In hindsight, had he remained healthy he would have played in 2020-21 due to the blanket transfer rule implemented in mid-December by the NCAA. Now, the Cyclones will get him back for the 2021-22 season, assuming the medical condition allows.
2021 recruiting class: G Tyrese Hunter, 6-foot-1 St. Catherine’s (Racine, Wisconsin). As a junior he averaged 21.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals. At the moment, is the only recruit signed for the 2021 class, but 247sports.com ranked Hunter as the program’s No. 3 all-time recruit, dating back to 2004. He is also a Top 40 player. And if you like dunk highlights, Hunter has ups.
Commitments yet to sign: Per 247Sports.com the Cyclones have a hard commit from G Jayden Nunn of Dream City Christian in Glendale, Arizona. He committed on Christmas Eve and cannot sign until later this spring.
Summarizing the season: If you’re a Cyclones fan, you just want to forget it. The Cyclones became the fourth Big 12 team to go winless in league action (the second in the 10-team era), failed to win a conference game for the first time since the 1936-37 season, and it was the third time in four seasons in which the Cyclones won five or fewer Big 12 games. It was also the first time since 1981 that the Cyclones failed to win at least 10 games overall. Iowa State’s last Big 12 win came on Feb. 25, 2020, when the Cyclones beat the TCU Horned Frogs, 65-59. The Cyclones have now lost 21 straight regular-season conference games. Between the exodus of transfers before the season, COVID-19 pauses, and the miss on Hinton being eligible, this just wasn’t a talented team. In fact, it was probably the least talented team of head coach Steve Prohm’s tenure.
Looking ahead to 2021-22: The Cyclones fired Steve Prohm on March 15, and based on published reports, the program was set to hire former Cyclones assistant coach T.J. Otzelberger one day later. Once official, ‘Otz’ will take on the biggest rebuilding job in the conference. Next season shapes up to be better, but how MUCH better depends on several factors. First, keeping Bolton as a building block as the team’s leading returning scorer. Bolton indicated on Twitter, after the Cyclones lost to Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, that he intended to stay. Second, there must be improvement from Johnson and Jackson, both of whom are talented enough to be double-digit scorers. Third, they must get Foster back from his injury. He was a Top 100 player and the centerpiece of Prohm’s 2020 class. He needs to play much more than he did in his limited exposure this past season. If Young chooses not to return, then that should create the opening Foster needs. Fourth, Hunter will have to contribute right away. Fifth, the Cyclones may need to find at least one transfer that can inject more energy in this team, especially defensively. Sixth, the Cyclones must hope that Hinson is healthy and ready to go. There are pieces here, but don’t expect the Cyclones to bounce back as fast as they did in winning the 2019 Big 12 Tournament. This team isn’t that talented and there are a LOT of if’s.
Note: This story was updated on March 15 to reflect that head coach Steve Prohm was let go. This story was updated on March 16 to reflect reports of the hiring of T.J. Otzelberger to replace Prohm. This story was updated on March 22 to reflect the report of Chris Harris submitting his name to the transfer portal. This story was updated on March 25 to note that Aljaz Kunc had transferred and signed with Iowa State.
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