By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Royce White is off to the NBA.
It’s time to put a bow on yesterday’s big news and start to look ahead a the 2012-13 Iowa State basketball team. After yesterday’s press conference, I caught up with head coach Fred Hoiberg for this exclusive, one-on-one five questions interview that focuses on next year’s team and beyond.
CF: Let’s just assuming that Royce goes where you think he will in the draft, how will that help your program in the long run?
FH: I think the big thing is that we brought Royce, Chris (Allen), (Chris) Babb and (Anthony) Booker here and all of those guys had success in one way or another. It helps other programs to see that. If it’s not working out in a certain situation, we’ve had success with guys like that. I think that can help. Royce is such a unique player and a unique kid. It’s just beginning for him. Projections have been all over the board with him. I don’t think that anybody knows right now. It’s hard to say. The process is just beginning. He’s got so much ahead of him now with the interviews and workouts and everything involved with the process so it’s hard to say where exactly he is going to go. You can look at all of the websites but as a former executive, it just doesn’t mean very much. Once these teams start doing their homework and doing all of the research that will go into this process, then you get a better idea about where he is going to go. Sure, it always helps when you can get guys to that next level. It helped that we played Connecticut and Kentucky, two of the most high profile schools in all of college basketball and he had success against them. That’s going to play a bit part in it as well.
CF: Well now we can look forward to next year. You’ve got Korie Lucious and Will Clyburn coming in off of sitting out a year. How did they progress during that year?
FH: Those guys were great. You just salivate over what they can do. Korie is so fast with the ball. He’s not afraid. He’s got a very quick release. He’s a playmaker. He gets into the paint and makes the right play. Clyburn can run. He can shoot. He’s athletic. You can play him in different places because of his size. I think the can play anywhere from the 2 to the 4 depending on the night. Those guys will play a big part next year. We’ve got Percy (Gibson) coming back. He made huge strides over the year. Melvin (Ejim) was awesome for us especially in league play, kinda the opposite of last year where he got off to such a fast start but struggled a little bit in the league. This year, he didn’t get off to a great start but was awesome against Big 12 competition. I’m looking for a big year out of Melvin next year. Then you look at (Chris) Babb and Tyrus (McGee), (Anthony) Booker and all of these guys that we have coming back, it’s exciting. Then you add the freshmen who are coming into the mix and it is about putting it together and trying to put them in spots where they can be successful.
CF: The fact Percy came on so strong towards the end of the year, Melvin has two years under his belt along with Booker & (Georges) Niang in the mix has to soften the blow from Royce leaving doesn’t it? You’ve got guys in place…
FH: We do have guys in place. Selfishly, I probably would have liked to have Royce back but we’re going to be good next year. I know that. I’m excited about the team. We’ll probably play a little more traditional next year compared to how we played this year. Korie is obviously going to be a big part of that.
CF: I’ve heard from a lot of people about how strong of a leader that Korie is. I’ve heard him even during games this year being very vocal. What’s your take on that?
FH: He was as vocal as anybody this last year. We’re going on a road trip and he’s the one talking a lot of times. He brings that. He has a great work ethic. He and Chris (Allen) I’m sure learned that at Michigan State about how hard you have to work and how much time you have to spend in the gym. Those guys are not only vocal leaders but they lead by example and he’ll do that.
As far as Clyburn goes, I know that he is versatile but what exactly does he do that you’d call his bread and butter?
FH: He’s got great range. He really finishes at the basket well. He’s athletic and long. He’s a very good rebounder. When you look at what we’ve got with the fact that we can play some bigger lineups with he and Babb at the 2 and the 3. I think that Melvin will be able to play some 3 next year. We can play some smaller lineups with Will at the 4 and create a tremendous mismatch. That’s something that we do a lot of. We just try to exploit the mismatch and we’ll go to a guy until the defense shows that they can stop it.