By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Fred Hoiberg got his guy.
From the moment that Iowa State’s head basketball coach first watched Georges Niang play ball, Hoiberg knew that he had to have him.
Niang, a versatile 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward out of The Tilton School in Tilton, N.H., verbally committed to Iowa State on on May 15. After a head-turning AAU season with the Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC), Niang blew up this past summer. Every school in America not named Duke or North Carolina seemed to be calling the future Cyclone.
Hoiberg’s diligence on the recruiting trail will pay off today when Niang signs the National Letter of Intent to attend Iowa State next year.
This relationship began when Niang and his mother unofficially visited Iowa State for the first time last March. At that point, it wasn’t hard for Niang to realize that he was Hoiberg’s top priority.
“He told me about the plays that he wanted to run with me and stuff like that,” said Niang. “He sat me down and told me that I was his number one guy at this position for this class and that he didn’t want to have to have a plan B. That’s how bad he wanted me.”
During that conversation is when Hoiberg first compared Niang to a guy who he drafted during his time in the front office of the Minnesota Timberwolves, former UCLA Bruin Kevin Love.
“Because of his background in the NBA, that was a huge compliment,” said Niang.
Hoiberg’s work wasn’t complete when he received Niang’s commitment in May. That’s actually when the real work began. To say that coaches around the country were recruiting negatively against Iowa State is an understatement.
“I was getting typical calls like, ‘I hear you aren’t happen with your decision,'” said Niang. “That was never the case. I got calls like that a lot about how there is nothing going on in Iowa. I was sold on the fact that Coach Hoiberg has the right plan for me and that everything is going to go really well. I didn’t really double think it.”
Knowing that he had snagged a diamond in the rough, Hoiberg kept grinding. Iowa State’s assistant coaches were in the picture, but barely. Niang was Hoiberg’s man.
“He really showed me that he wanted me more than any other head coach,” said Niang. “For me, it was huge because he is the guy who is pulling me in and out of the games. If he is telling me that he believes in me, I don’t have to rely on an assistant. Assistants usually bounce form school to school so that was huge.”
“The thing that helps him is that he isn’t like every other coach who is going to BS you. He is a genuine guy. He keeps it real all of the time so he doesn’t have to cover up for lies or anything like that. I couldn’t be more happy with my decision.”
KEEPING TABS: Niang tuned into Iowa State’s exhibition win over Grand Valley State via the Internet on Sunday.
For a moment, watching his future team made Niang wish away his senior year of high school.
“It’s killing me not being with those guys right now. I wish that I could be in college right now,” joked Niang. “I don’t want to jump the gun. I want to have a good senior year but I wish I could be out there right now. Watching that Grand Valley State game killed me. I want to be on the team right now.”
Niang said that he thinks he will play well with the other big guys on Iowa State’s roster.
“They are all really good passes so I think that I could score in the low-post,” said Niang. “We made a lot of threes from when I was watching and looked pretty good in the half court.”
The Tilton School will start its 2011-12 schedule on Nov. 24 vs. Trent Internationale.