By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Athens, Greece is nearly 6,000 miles away from Remsen, Iowa. The two towns do share something special in common though. Jared Homan calls both places home.
For his first 21 years on Earth, Homan lived in the state of Iowa. He is a true-blue Iowa boy. You know those corny pictures of cornfields and farms that ESPN likes to show every time a team from Iowa is on their network?
That is Homan. Homan began his life in Remsen as a farm boy. He then matured into one of the most dominating centers in the history of Iowa State basketball.
Now, Homan is a 26-year old professional basketball player. Since graduating from Iowa State in 2005, Homan has played in Greece, Turkey, Korea, Poland and for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. This season, he’s back in Greece as a member of an Athens team called Maroussi, averaging 10.4 points per game and 5.5 rebounds.
“Athens is definitely my favorite place so far,” Homan recently told CycloneFanatic.com. “It is pretty Americanized. They have a lot of teams with a lot of different Americans on them so it is nice when you can get together with those guys and go out to dinner and do stuff like that. It kind of reminds you of being back at home.”
This is Homan’s second stint in Athens playing for Maroussi. It is actually the same team that he played for immediately after leaving Iowa State.
“The European game has always appealed to me,” Homan said. “I get to travel the world and experience different cultures. I meet new people and eat different foods. It has been a wonderful experience.”
His time at Iowa State
Homan played for two coaches during his tenure in Ames. Larry Eustachy, who he played two seasons for, recruited him to campus. Homan then played for Wayne Morgan during his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Homan helped lead Iowa State to the NCAA Tournament, where the Cyclones eventually lost to top-seeded North Carolina in the second round. Homan had a memorable game against the Tar Heels, scoring 19 points and ripping down 20 rebounds.Homan eventually became Iowa State’s all-time leader in blocked shots, recording 235 in his career.
During his four years in Ames, Homan saw his fair share of controversy too. The well-known Larry Eustachy situation is the first to come to everyone’s mind. Coaching changes are generally hard on a program and the players involved. Especially a messy one like that.
But to this day, Homan believes that playing for both men was a blessing in disguise.
“I got two different perspectives,” Homan said. “I had two different coaching philosophies.”
Eustachy emphasized defense and rebounding.
“I think that is the strong point of my game. That’s what a lot of teams like about me,” Homan said.
Then, Morgan took over. It was at that time when Homan flourished on the offensive side of the floor. Homan averaged 3.6 and 7.5 points per game during his two years under Eustachy. With Morgan in control, Homan put up 11.1 and 13.6 points per contest.
“He was a little bit more offensive minded and helped me establish more of my offensive game. That really helped me as well,” Homan said. “The combination of the two coaches actually turned out to be a benefit for me.”
Morgan was fired by Iowa State at the end of the 2005/2006 season and replaced by current head coach, Greg McDermott. It is a little known fact that Homan also shares a special relationship with McDermott, who was the head coach of Northern Iowa during his time in Ames.
“I have known Coach Mac for a long time. He was the first coach to start recruiting me so I like to stop in and talk to him to see how he is doing,” Homan said. “Iowa State is always going to be home for me. I wish them nothing but luck and success in the future.
Looking back at his college years, it is pretty simple to realize what Homan misses the most. That’s the passionate Iowa State fan…The Cyclone Fanatic if you will. Homan was recently back in Iowa for Christmas and was able to attend Iowa State’s 83-52 win over North Dakota on Dec. 22. If you remember, the crowd for that game wasn’t great due to the holiday and bad weather. Still, Homan remembers being emotionally impacted by stepping foot inside of Hilton Coliseum.
“I loved running out onto the court and hearing the fans go crazy,” Homan said. “That is what I missed the most. When I came back around Christmas, the crowd wasn’t huge. But it was still energized and electric. I got chills walking into that arena.”
As far as his most memorable games as a Cyclone, a couple come to mind for Homan. Going on the road and beating then second-ranked Kansas in overtime on Feb. 19, 2005 was certainly special. Homan says that winning in Austin on Feb. 5, that same year, was spectacular.
But it was another win against the Longhorns that stands out in Homan’s mind. It was Valentines Day, 2004, when 11th ranked Texas entered Hilton Coliseum. The underdog Cyclones beat Texas 78-77 that day due to two missed Brian Boddicker free throws in the closing seconds that could have sent the Longhorns home with a victory.
“In that Texas game, I could literally feel the floor shaking,” Homan said. “That is how loud it was. If somebody was right next to you, you couldn’t hear them talk. During those free throws, it was an amazing feeling. It is one of those things that I will never forget.”
The Iowa Energy – Any Chance?
With the Iowa Energy’s recent emergence into the Des Moines sports market, one would think that adding Homan to their roster would be a perfect match. According to Homan, it has been talked about numerous times. But for now, don’t expect to see Homan playing in Des Moines anytime soon.
“I have considered it and have tossed around the idea,” Homan said. “They’ve been fantastic on keeping me up to date and inviting me to come play with them. The pay just isn’t there. You’re taking a huge pay cut to do that. When your playing career is only so long, you have to make as much money as you can to set yourself up for later in life.”
Homan has a handful of ideas that he believes could help the D-League be more successful in the future.
“What I think that would help that league is to get the NBA to fund a little bit more money into that league. They need to make it more lucrative for other players who are leaving to go to Europe,” Homan said. “If you look at the salaries from the NBA guys and take one guy’s salary, you could disperse that throughout one whole NBADL team. You’d have a lot of guys show up to play.”
Five years from now…
Homan plans to still be playing basketball five years from now. Hopefully, that will be in the NBA. If not, Europe is fine with him. He just loves to play basketball for a living.
“I will probably be winding down my career,” Homan said. “I want to play for as long as I can but at the same time, I want to move onto the next aspect of my life. I want to stay in the same place for a period of time and start a family. Right now, my love for the game is still great. I love playing basketball. I like waking up and going to the gym to do my job. That is playing basketball. I am very lucky in that aspect.”
I’ve written this a handful of times and I’ll write it again today. Jared Homan is my favorite Iowa State Cyclone of all-time. Homan was tough. Homan was mean. Homan provided an inside presence that most coaches dream about having in their starting five. Opposing teams feared Jared Homan. Iowa State has felt that void since the day he left campus.
“That has to be the way I was raised and brought up. I grew up on a farm. I worked with cows and bailed hay,” Homan said about his mentality. “I did a lot of jobs that kids don’t have to do anymore. I put in long hours and my dad was very strict about getting work done. He also pushed me towards playing basketball. The work ethic went from the farm to basketball.”
To sum things up, if Jared Homan played for your team, you loved him. If he played against you, you you more than likely despised him.
In my opinion, Homan was the perfect Cyclone to begin our monthly looking back column here at CycloneFanatic.com.
We’ll be tracking down former Cyclones once a month from now on here at CycloneFanatic.com. If you have any requests on former athletes/coaches to hear from, please send me a PM in our forms at any time.