By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher — June 25, 2010
I’ll never forget a phone conversation that I had with the owner of this website, Jason Loutsch, during the real tough part of last year’s Iowa State basketball season. I know what you’re thinking.
“The entire season was tough Williams, what are you talking about?”
I’m talking about when that team was at their lowest. You all were constantly melting down on our message board. It was an ugly time for Iowa State athletics.
Back to this conversation. I had just wrapped up the latest edition of “Cyclone Soundoff” on 1460 KXNO, where I had attempted to talk all of you off the ledge for about an hour and a half.
After wrapping up that installment, like I normally do, I got a call from Jason. We predictably went on to break the game down.
We got on the topic of Craig Brackins. Did he make the right choice to come back for his junior year?
“Craig Brackins is one of my all-time favorite Cyclones,” I said.
I meant that. Craig Brackins really is one of my all-time favorites to ever put on the cardinal and gold. These thoughts all blossomed in my brain when he signed with Iowa State. Brackins had offers from UCONN and Pitt to name a few. He could have gone to an established “winner” right away. But do to a masterful recruiting job by T.J. Otzelberger, this California kid decided to head to God’s country, to help rebuild Iowa State’s once very prominent basketball program.
We all know how that worked out. It didn’t. Brent Blum put it best yesterday when he referred to the McDermott years as the “what if” era of Iowa State basketball.
Brackins never really won in Ames. Things never worked out the way he, or anybody had anticipated. But Craig always kept his chin up. It didn’t matter how many people told him that he made the “biggest mistake of his life” by returning to Ames for his junior year, Craig kept working hard and more importantly, Craig kept smiling.
Why? Because Craig Brackins loves Iowa State. That’s why he returned to Ames to watch the draft last night. Craig wanted to be with the people who were his rock over the past three years. Craig wanted to bring his entire family, to spend this special moment with his Iowa State family. Last night was the first time that Craig’s mother and two brothers had all been in Ames together at the same time.
When Craig’s name was finally read at number 21 (seems fitting) last night, I couldn’t help but get goosebumps. He deserved that. The “biggest mistake of his life” probably didn’t cost him a dime.
Craig Brackins put up with a lot last season. His announcement to return to Ames put the entire Cyclone Nation on NCAA Tournament watch, myself included. It didn’t work out. But ultimately, for Craig, it did.
Brackins never played in the NCAA Tournament. But he now has friends for life, a wonderful support group in his Iowa State family and thousands of Cyclone fans who will follow his every move at the next level.
The New Orleans Hornets just picked up a lot of fans last night.