By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
In 2003, Baylor hired Scott Drew to clean up the rubbish from one of the nastiest scandals in college basketball history.
After four years of finishing 11th or 12th in the Big 12, Drew has coached Baylor to two NCAA Tournaments (including an Elite Eight in 2009-10) and the Bears are being picked by many to win league this season.
Good or bad, everybody has an opinion about Drew. Still – The man knows how to rebuild a basketball program.
In less than two years on the job, Fred Hoiberg has gone the unconventional route in Ames. In an attempt to speed up the rebuilding process, Hoiberg signed six transfers in that short period of time. The four who are eligible this season are the reason why many believe the Cyclones can be a sleeper in the Big 12.
“I think that he’s done a tremendous job of bringing in talented players," said Drew at the Big 12’s annual media day in Kansas City on Thursday. "I know that the fans are going to like cheering for them because they’re going to be exciting."
Royce White (Minnesota), Chris Allen (Michigan State), Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois) and Chris Babb (Penn State) are all eligible to play this season. Korie Lucious (Michigan State) and Will Clyburn (Utah) will be Hoiberg’s reinforcements in 2013.
"Any time that there is a good transfer available, people are going to be interested because they have been coached. They have experience," said Drew. "Now, they are going to a place where they get to sit out a year and learn the system and develop physically."
The transfer season is a year for a basketball player to grow not just physically, but mentally as well.
"Sometimes transfers are more willing to be coached because they have gone through a situation that they left sometimes for a reason and they want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again," said Drew.
The theory makes sense. Just look at some specifics regarding Hoiberg’s Iowa State program. Allen and Lucious have spent their entire college career’s up until now being groomed by one of the greatest basketball minds of all-time, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.
"He is as good of a coach and demanding of a coach as you are going to play for," said Hoiberg. “If you’ve played for Tom Izzo, I think that you can probably play for anybody."
White worked with Tubby Smith. Booker learned from Chris Lowery. All of these Cyclones left their former programs for a reason, but they’ve matured along the way.
"Those guys have been through it and learned from some really good people," said Hoiberg. "Those guys have already had a lot of those growing pains that you have as freshmen. Now, they can start working out the kinks and getting the confidence back in those guys and then getting them to play together.”
There’s no guarantee that Hoiberg’s plan will work, but the jump from high school to Big 12 basketball is a big one.
All of these transfers have all traveled on some rocky roads on their way to Ames. But that also means that unlike a rookie, they’ve been around the block a time or two.
If they’ve grown the way that Hoiberg believes that they have, the big four will give Iowa State a chance to win year two of a rebuilding process, which is pretty rare in big time college hoops.