Iowa State’s Aljaz Kunc Cleared For Non-Contact Workouts
Iowa State forward Aljaz Kunc has been cleared for non-contact activities, according to a report filed by CycloneFanatic.com’s Jared Stansbury.
Stansbury filed the report via a tweet on Thursday.
The report quoted Cyclones head coach T.J. Otzelberger as saying that “We’re hopeful he’ll return here soon whether that’s Saturday or shortly after.”
Stansbury noted that it’s possible that Kunc could play on Saturday against Kansas if he’s cleared for contact before the game.
Kunc suffered a broken finger during workouts in preparation for the Cyclones’ Big 12 opener against Baylor at the end of December. At the time, Otzelberger didn’t give a specific time range, but he was quoted as saying it would be “probably weeks to a month − in that range.”
Kunc was a critical piece off the bench for the Cyclones last season, as they bounced back from a two-win season to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
Kunc grew into a starter this season, averaging 8.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 steals in 28.5 minutes per game.
Since he left the lineup, the Cyclones are firmly in the Big 12 Conference race for the regular-season title, despite a loss to Texas Tech on Monday in which they lost a 23-point lead and fell in overtime.
The Cyclones have three different players averaging double figures — guard Jaren Holmes (13.5), guard Gabe Kalscheur (13.1), and guard Caleb Grill (10.7). Grill is bouncing back from a back injury that forced him to miss the Big 12-SEC Challenge game with Missouri last Saturday. But, he returned against Texas Tech and scored 24 points on eight 3-pointers.
Forward Osun Osunniyi has benefited the most from Kunc’s absence, as his play has improved the past month and he’s averaging nearly 10 points per game, along with 1.2 blocked shots.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard