ISU coach McDermott scores big with second recruiting class
By Eric Page | Monday, May 07, 2007
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The second time around the recruiting circuit was much easier for Greg McDermott.
Easier, and exponentially more successful.
After replacing Wayne Morgan as Iowa State’s men’s basketball coach in March 2006, McDermott had less than a month to throw together his initial class of newcomers. The best he could do was a rag-tag bunch of juco transfers and unheralded freshmen who weren’t ready to compete in the Big 12 Conference.
As the Cyclones struggled to a 15-16 finish in McDermott’s first season, three things became abundantly clear: The team lacked strength, the team lacked scoring and the team lacked depth. With this year’s spring signing period behind him and his second recruiting class in the books, McDermott feels like he has addressed all three deficiencies.
“The one thing I learned the first time through the Big 12 was you have to have some size in the guard court if you want to be successful,” McDermott said Friday. “All of the guards we’ve signed have some height, and their bodies are ready to go.
“We’ve added to our front line, too. With Craig Brackins and Clayton Vette, we feel like we have two quality players that are ready to play in the Big 12.”
Rated a top-20 prospect by many recruiting services, Brackins, no doubt, is the headliner of group, which includes four prep school players and two out of high school.
A 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward, Brackins averaged 18 points and nine rebounds for Brewster (N.H.) Academy last season. He spurred the likes of Pittsburgh, Illinois, Indiana and Clemson to come to Iowa State.
“He’s different than anybody we have on our team,” McDermott said of Brackins. “He gives us somebody that can match the athletic frontline players that we’ll run into in our league.”
Vette, a 6-9, 240-pound forward and Iowa’s 2007 Mr. Basketball, fell into McDermott’s lap this spring after being released from his commitment to Indiana State. Vette knew McDermott from his days of attending the coach’s camps at Northern Iowa, and Vette’s high school coach, Tom Bardal, actually lived across the street from McDermott in Cedar Falls. So, the Cyclones were an easy sell.
Of course, had Ross Mardsen, a little used sophomore center, not quit the team just days before Vette became available, McDermott would not have had a scholarship to offer.
“We were really fortunate,” McDermott said. “To have somebody who is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds in your state, who happens to be Mr. Basketball, all of a sudden become available. The stars aligned right for us on that one.”
Four guards — Diante Garrett (6-4, 170), Lucca Staiger (6-5, 215), Charles Boozer (6-3, 190) and Marcus Brister (6-3, 210) — round out the group of signees. McDermott expects all six freshmen to see the floor next season.
Garrett, Staiger and Boozer, the younger brother of former Duke All-American and current Utah Jazz forward Carlos, signed last fall. Brister, a bulky point guard, was a late addition this spring, but he is perhaps the most important.
Corey McIntosh started 29 games at the point last year but, at 160 pounds, often was overmatched and ineffective, which forced the Cyclones’ primary scoring threat — Mike Taylor — to handle the ball. McIntosh decided to transfer after the season, opening a scholarship for Brister, who averaged 13 points and six assists playing at a Dallas prep school last season.
“We had an obvious weakness from a depth standpoint in the guard court,” McDermott said. “We really feel like we’ve addressed that in a positive way.”
Eric Page can be contacted at (563) 383-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Iowa State signed four players last fall and two more this spring, giving coach Greg McDermott a surprisingly strong incoming class for his second season in Ames:
Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown
Craig Brackins F 6-10 220 Palmdale, Calif.
Diante Garrett G 6-4 170 Milwaukee
Lucca Staiger G 6-5 215 Baulstein, Germany
Charles Boozer G 6-3 190 Raleigh, N.C.
Marcus Brister G 6-3 210 Duncanville, Texas
Clayton Vette F 6-9 245 Waverly, Iowa
No decision on Taylor
Iowa State men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott on Friday said he’s yet to make a decision on the future of senior guard Mike Taylor.
Taylor, the Cyclones’ leading scorer last season, has been arrested twice this spring — once for vandalism of an apartment building and a second time for shoplifting cold medicine. Per ISU’s student-athlete code of conduct, Taylor is suspended until the legal system runs its course, but McDermott hasn’t decided if he’ll be allowed back on the team regardless of the outcome.
“He’s suspended indefinitely until I say otherwise,” McDermott said. “If we were to play a game tomorrow, he wouldn’t be playing.”
— Eric Page