Haaland: ISU 2011 Season Recap, The Returners

By Kirk Haaland, Contributor Follow Kirk on Twitter: @khaal53 If you like this type of analysis check out Kirk’s website: Here are the first three installments of this series: Recap 1, Recap 2, and The Departures

There are five players returning for Iowa State who saw significant action in the 2010-11 season that will need to mesh and gel with the four scholarship transfers and three (as of right now) incoming recruits.  The five returning guys—Melvin Ejim, Calvin Godfrey, Jordan Railey, Scott Christopherson and Bubu Palo—all played a meaning full role with last year’s team and that will likely be the case again this year, even if it’s limited, in some way or another.

While there were times of promise for Palo and Railey throughout the season, there is little statistical data that can properly put them into perspective historically at Iowa State.  That isn’t unexpected for a redshirt freshman walk-on from Ames and a developing big man.  Bubu’s quickness defensively and ability to get to the rim are reason enough for some optimism while Railey played strong inside on the defensive end and will provide the most height for ISU next season.

Freshmen Forwards

It may sound strange, but both of these guys remind me of one former Cyclone with how they play.  If you took certain attributes from each and molded them into a single player, I think you could come up with another undersized four from about 15 years ago for the Cyclones.  Kenny Pratt.  As freshmen, neither Ejim nor Godfrey have the same offensive game and they certainly are far behind on the “circus shots made” list, but there are similarities.  A little undersized in height, “strong like bull”, and just enough offensive game and creativity around the rim and they are only freshmen.  Think about it.

While you’re thinking about it, check out their rebounding numbers as compared to other freshmen in Cyclones history:


Melvin Ejim may not have completely lived up to the hype that some had bestowed upon him but he showed us all what he can do as an undersized four. That may or may not end up being the role he plays over the next three years, depending on the development of his ball handling and jump shot.  All year long, I said that he was at his best with the ball in his hands 12-15 feet from the rim where he could look to attack and create.  Any further from the rim required better ball handling which just isn’t there yet.

Check out how Ejim compares with other prominent freshman scoring campaigns:


As the season wore on, he progressed immensely with his attitude attacking the glass for offensive boards and relishing in his role as an energy guy.  I think he turned his corner early in the conference season when he started to play within himself and within his role on the team and wasn’t trying to do too much.

Being an energy guy and playing within his role was an early strength for Godfrey, however.  He especially blossomed after his suspension and his offensive efficiency skyrocketed.  In the final seven games of the season after his suspension Godfrey  played 28 minutes per game, averaged 10.6 points per game, grabbed 7.3 rebounds per game, and averaged 1.3 steals and blocks per game.  That’s a very strong line for a freshman role player.  For the season, Godfrey averaged 5.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg in 20 minutes per game.

Scott Christopherson

In his second season in Ames, the transfer from Marquette arguably had the second best 3-point shooting season in ISU history.  Christopherson made the third most 3-pointers per game in a season while making 86 on the year:


Not only did Scotty have a single great season behind the 3-point arc, he is also on pace to break the all-time 3-point percentage mark.  It will be nearly impossible to catch Jake Sullivan and his career made 270 3’s, but if he makes 60 or more he will be second all-time:


That is just part of the hand that ISU will be playing with next season.  We will all learn together just how good the transfers and incoming recruits are and how the team will gel and mesh together.  Hopefully we won’t be disappointed.