By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Iowa State announced its basketball recruiting class of 2012 on Wednesday.
Shortly after the announcement was made, CycloneFanatic.com caught up with Fred Hoiberg and discussed the class in-depth. Here’s the exclusive Q&A.
CF: Georges Niang has talked a lot about how you recruited him more than any other head coach in America. Can you break down what you saw from Georges on day one? Because he committed to Iowa State and then blew up over the summer months during the AAU season. What did you see the first time you saw him play and when you spoke to him at length that made you so sure the he was your guy?
Hoiberg: The thing that I loved about Georges the first time I saw him was how productive he was. He just made things happen out there. He scored. He rebounded it. He has a great team out there that won a prep school national championship last year. He was the MVP of that team. There are a lot of great players on that team but he was the one who got things done. That was what impressed me the most about him, just how productive he was and how efficient he was. He has as good of footwork on the block at that age as anybody I have seen. He really knows how to play.
CF: What exactly happened with him over the summer months? He really blew up during the AAU season and I know that a lot of teams started calling him late. Can you explain exactly how his game improved at that point which ultimately made him a top 100 recruit?
Hoiberg: I think the biggest thing that made him blow up was the Peach Jam, which is one of the top AAU events of the summer. It is 16 teams with all very highly ranked players on those teams. His team won a championship in that as well. That’s the other thing about Georges. His teams always end up on top. I thought that he was the best player on that team. The way that he passes the ball, the way that he rebounds the ball. He is just such a well-rounded player. He is playing against players every day with his prep school in passes and then with his BABC team. If he can get shots up over some of the guys who he is playing against, the guy can get shots up against anybody. I am thrilled to have him on board. Plus, he is class president at his school. People think very highly of him as a person as well.
CF: Georges told me that one of the things that initially really caught his attention about you was that one of the first times that you two had a serious conversation, you compared him to Kevin Love. Can you elaborate on the similarities between the two?
Hoiberg: I worked with Kevin a lot in Minnesota, being that I was a part of that draft. Kevin did a little bit of everything. He can stretch a defense. He knocks down perimeter shots. He can get it done on the block as well. That’s what I saw with Georges. Kevin Love is as good of an outlet passer as I have ever seen. What I saw him do at UCLA, just get the ball up and advance on the fast break himself, I saw Georges do the same thing. His ability top pick apart a defense with an initial outlet pass, which is as important aspect of the fast break as anything. I saw some of that and again, his versatility and smarts as a basketball player are things that I would compare to Kevin Love.
CF: One thing that I have noticed about him is how excited he seems to be about going to Iowa State. That enthusiasm that he shows towards your program I can only assume is pretty rewarding for you.
Hoiberg: No doubt. He is so excited to come here. You can just tell by his Facebook and Twitter accounts the excitement that he has for the program. It’s not all about basketball. He congratulates the football team when they win. He is going to be great for our entire athletic program, just because the type of a kid that he is.
CF: Let’s talk a little bit about Nkereuwem Okoro now. From what I’ve seen of him as a player and where he is from, he reminds me of Curtis Stinson from a toughness standpoint. Is it accurate to categorize him as that type of a player?
Hoiberg: If you talk to his coaches, the thing that they all talk about is the type of leader he is. When times get tough, that is who they lean on. The thing that Nkereuwem does a great job of is getting out and running. He will fit our style of play with the way that he can run the floor. His shot has gotten so much better since last year to the point where when I go out and watch him during open gym in the spring, guys really had to get out there and guard him. He has always been a great slasher but now his ability to knock down a shot will make him a threat from all over the court.
CF: As far as projecting him at the next level, is he a three or do you plan on moving him around?
Hoiberg: It’s hard to say right now. Our wings are pretty interchangeable. He is definitely a wing player but he has a good handle and his ability to slash to the basket is one of his biggest strengths.
CF: Sherron Dorsey-Walker looks like the shooter of this class. How would you describe him as a player?
Hoiberg: Sherron can really shoot it. He has deep range on his shot but he can also play make. He spent a lot of time with the ball in his hands over the summer with his AAU team. He has the ability to create for himself but also for others. His biggest strength right now is his ability to shoot the basketball. He has very good range. He can step three or four feet behind the line and shoot a very smooth shot. We shoot a lot of threes obviously so we’ll try to get him out on a break and he has the ability to do that. The other thing about Sherron is that he has such good athleticism as well. He’s a well-rounded player. I love players who are versatile, who can play multiple positions. I think that he fits into that category.