Basketball Blog: ISU’s class of 2011

By Chris Williams, Publisher

College basketball’s early signing period begins today. In the matter of a few hours, Iowa State’s men’s basketball program expects to officially have four new members. Below are scouting reports on all of the prospects, some of my additional thoughts on them and highlight videos as well.

Tyrus McGee – 6-foot-2, 190-pound guard out of Cowley County C.C. in Arkansas City, Kan.

Scouting Report from Cowley County head coach, Tommy DeSalme

“The first thing that comes to my mind is how hard he plays on a consistent basis. You won’t believe it when you see it. It just doesn’t change. He is a throwback player. You don’t see many kids who can be great players, play that hard. I don’t care if it is in the middle of August, the middle of July or in a playoff game or the first game of the year. It doesn’t change and it has never changed with him. There is nothing fake about it and how hard he goes after the basketball. Right up there with that strength is his ability to score and shoot. You can look at his stats from last year and his whole career in high school. The good Lord gave him the ability to put the ball in the hole from a lot of different spots in a lot of different ways. He is our team leader. He leads the group and he will continue to get better at those things. He is going to be our primary point guard this year and he can do a lot of different things. He can really push the basketball and his ability to make decisions and things like that are really good. After having an entire year of running the point, he’ll be even better at that.”

Chris’ Take: McGee should be Iowa State’s starting point guard in 2011. He’s not a natural point but with Royce White, Chris Babb, Chris Allen and Anthony Booker finally being eligible, McGee should excel with that type of talent around him. McGee chose Iowa State over known offers from: Creighton, Colorado and Wichita State. Fred Hoiberg was McGee’s lead recruiter for Iowa State.

Tavon Sledge – 5-foot-9, 180-pound point guard out of Dix Hills, N.Y.

Scouting Report from Sledge’s AAU coach Mike Moore

“They call him a 6-foot-4 guard stuck in a 5-foot-10 body. That’s what they say here in New York. He plays bigger than his size. He brings so much to the table on both ends of the court. His size has never been an issue.”

Chris’ Take: Sledge will come into a good scenario in Ames as he won’t be asked to start in year number one. He’ll be able to take his lumps behind McGee, with fellow freshman Anthony Odunsi in the mix too. Sledge is a perfect fit to the offense that Hoiberg is trying to install in Ames. He’s an up-tempo, exciting prospect who is gritty.

"Most people think that height is all that you need to be a successful basketball player,” Sledge told me the day he committed. “I believe that heart plays a big part in the sport. That’s all that you really need as a player. No matter how tall you are, if you are working hard, you will get better every day. It doesn’t matter how tall you are.”

I predict that Tavon Sledge will be a fan favorite in Ames by the time his career is over.

Anthony Odunsi – 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard out of Fort Bend (Travis), Texas

Scouting Report from Travis head coach Craig Brownson

“He is 6-foot-3 and close to 200-pounds. He’s really strong. Really, he plays multiple positions. He can play point guard but he can shoot the ball as well. He was our leading scorer this past season when he was a junior. He was our second leading scorer during his freshman and sophomore years behind a kid (Ray Penn) who is at Oklahoma State now. He really can do pretty much anything that we ask him to do. He is a good rebounder of the basketball. He sees the floor well. He’s a strong finisher. He shoots free throws at about 80 percent. He’s an excellent ball player. He was first-team all-district this year and all region.” “He is strong. We work quite a bit in the weight room. Some kids come in and are frail and can’t take pounding. We play in arguably the toughest district in the state of Texas. He goes against kids night in and night out who will be playing in major conferences. He is used to the rigor of that kind of ball.” “I’d call him a scorer. He really just finds ways to score. If his shot isn’t on, he gets to the free throw line. He is kind of a slasher. He has a very good mid-range game. His freshman year, he made one 3-pointer the whole year. That wasn’t in his repertoire yet. He has been extending that range. He just finds ways to score depending on the circumstances.”

Chris’ Take: Odunsi reminds me of current Iowa State freshman Melvin Ejim in more ways than one. First, their bodies are similar. At 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, Odunsi’s frame is Big 12 ready as a senior in high school. In fact, he probably was as a junior too. Ejim was the same way in his final year at the Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. I’ve seen Odunsi play in person and he’ll be a lock down defender for Iowa State in the future. He’s the type of guy who Hoiberg will consistently assign to the opposition’s best backcourt player. Odunsi is good at getting to the basketball but his jump shot could use some improvement. The other easy comparison to make to Ejim is Odunsi’s overall demeanor. He’s a smart kid, a great talker and will for sure be a great representative of Iowa State basketball for years to come.

Elgin Cook – 6-foot-5, 180-pound forward out of Milwaukee Hamilton As a junior, Cook was named the City (Milwaukee) Conference Player of the Year while leading Hamilton to the conference championship. Cook averaged 15.9 points and 7.5 rebounds on the season.

Chris’ Take: It seems like Elgin Cook has been a member of this basketball program for years already. It was way back on Aug. 22, 2009 when Cook committed to Iowa State and then head coach Greg McDermott. Iowa State’s current associate head coach T.J. Otzelberger was Cook’s lead recruiter so he stuck with the Cyclones during last spring’s coaching change. Cook is an incredible athlete who will create some mega matchup problems for the competition. He’s a solid ball handler who will dazzle Iowa State crowds much like Rahshon Clark did back in the day. The two are actually very similar players. Cook does struggle shooting the basketball though, which is something he’ll need to work on over the next year.