So far, really good.
That is the impression that Marquette transfer Jameel McKay has left on the Iowa State basketball program during his first few weeks of practice on the scout team.
“The first practice that he was able to play in, we had more blocks in practice than we have had in the three years we have been here combined,” assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih said. “He is just so skilled for his size. There really isn’t anything bad that I can say about him. It’s pretty scary how good he is and he is out of shape as well. We are really lucky to have him.”
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season at Indian Hills Community College and will be eligible to play in December of 2014. However, he has already left his mark on the program according to sophomore forward Georges Niang.
“His length definitely helped us get prepared for Baylor,” Niang said.
That isn’t the only compliment that Niang gave his new teammate.
“We were messing around the other day and he sort of reminded me of Nerlens a little bit with his length and his ability to affect shots that I have seen,” Niang said. “Having him on our side is huge to help us get better.”
Of course, Niang was referencing Nerlens Noel, his former prep school teammate who was selected as the sixth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and now plays for the 76ers.
From here, the plan is for McKay to put on around 15 pounds before the time he is eligible next season.
“That’s the only thing that is holding him back,” Abdellmassih said. “Some people just have those types of bodies. I think he is one of them. You aren’t going to be able to put an excessive amount of weight on him.”
Don’t forget about…
The 6-foot-6 Northern Illinois transfer has been on campus since this summer and the good news surrounding his development comes around the perimeter.
“His shot is probably the one thing that has really improved,” Abdelmassih said. “It’s crazy because when he doesn’t have a guy in his face, he’s not as good of a shooter but when someone is in his face, he is as good of a difficult shooter as I have seen.”
In an attempt to describe Nader’s game, let’s go with the word "Clyburn-ish," with a bigger frame.
“He has a very sound perimeter game for a bigger guys,” Abdelmassih said. “He can take it off of the dribble and shoot a lot of jump shots because little guys can’t block his shot.”
Nader will have two years of eligibility at the start of the 2014-15 season.
“Having those two guys on the floor with that kind of length is something we have never had,” Abdelmassih said. “He is able to put the ball on the floor. He is somewhat of a hybrid and will be able to handle the ball.”
Nader led Northern Illinois in scoring last season at 13.1 points per game. He also averaged 5.6 rebounds per game.
I get it. Iowa State’s 11 a.m. tip at Oklahoma on Saturday is a scary game. Indeed it is and I couldn’t agree more. But I am still picking the Cyclones to win.
This team is playing its best basketball of the season right now, which is saying something considering the Cyclones are 14-0.
DeAndre Kane is all of the sudden an All-American candidate. You know what you are going to get from Georges Niang, Melvin Ejim and Dustin Hogue. Throw an improving Monte Morris into the mix and Iowa State has more scoring options than ever.
Vegas has Iowa State tabbed as a 3.5 point favorite in the contest and it is very realistic that the Cyclones could lose the game. But this team is playing too well. Give me Iowa State by an 82-75 final.